The McCain Derangement Syndrome has entered the realm of the surreal. Ann Coulter says Hillary Clinton is more conservative than John McCain. She says that if its Hillary vs. John, shell campaign for Hillary. You cant make this stuff up.
I just saw that on CNN's web site. Anyway, one of the raps that litmus test types like Coulter pin on McCain is that occasionally, he has reached across the aisle to co-sponsor legislation with Democrats.
What his critics forget is that the U.S. government is not a parliamentary system in which one party gets to call all the shots while it holds power. Ours is a system of divided powers and checks and balances. The Founders, who were newly freed from autocratic rule and were rightfully suspicious of concentrated power, designed it that way.
Under such a system, compromise and accommodation among people of varying points of view is often the most effective way to transact the publics business.
Which explains the complex relationship between Ronald Reagan and congressional Democrats of his time.
Yes, they sniped and argued, but Reagan had a knack for developing cordial relationships with his political adversaries, which built up the social glue that enables the system to function.
Reagan periodically invited members of Congress, both Rs and Ds, to drop by the White House for cocktails and joke telling. It sounds like harmless guy stuff, but Reagans social intelligence helped the executive and legislative branches forge a productive working relationship a bit of everyday horse sense that todays fight-to-the-death ideologues utterly lack.
Take wilderness, for example. During his two terms in office, Reagan signed nearly 40 bills that added 10.6 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System, about 10 percent of the system's present size.
It takes some understanding of the politics of wilderness to appreciate Reagan's achievement. For talk show radicals who celebrate live-for-today materialism, wilderness protection comes from the very center of the enviro-wacko heart of darkness.
Of all the standards that govern management of federal lands, wilderness is the most demanding. No roads. No permanent structures. No commercial logging or mining. No motor vehicles. Not even a bicycle. Pack it in, pack it out, and leave no trace of your visit.
Yet Reagans administration worked out wilderness legislation with Mo Udall, Patrick Leahy, and other liberal lions. It was a practical strategy to fix a festering problem a legislative solution to end vexing disputes about roadless national forest lands that had been in and out of the courts for years.
It was the same story with legislation setting energy efficiency standards for appliances. The idea gave Reagan philosophical heartburn and he vetoed a standards bill in 1986. Still, he was pragmatic enough to work with appliance manufacturers and congressional Democrats to work out another bill that he signed into law the following year.
And the ideologues who rail against international environmental treaties should be reminded, as loudly as necessary, about the Montreal Protocol. Reagan paid close heed to his science advisers, and in 1987 sent to a Democratic Congress a treaty, with his blessings, to reduce the use of industrial chemicals that were depleting the upper atmospheres protective ozone layer.
Reagan was astute enough to know that pragmatism was necessary for achieving his goals without sacrificing his principles. Its a lesson that has been lost on many of McCains more irrational critics.
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