Legislation Could Cure the GOP Blues

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: Call it noble crusade or ill-conceived witch-hunt, impeachment hasn't been good for the Grand Old Party. The past 13 months have tied an anvil to poll numbers, aired dirty party laundry (the moderates vs. right-wingers feud) and generally highlighted the fact that the GOP has nary a platform that doesn't include abortion or bloodhounds. But TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson says predictions of the party's 2000 demise are greatly exaggerated. "If the Republicans lose their majorities in Congress in 2000, it won't be because people went to the voting booth and thought about impeachment," he says. "It'll be because the party didn't do anything else since. They have to pass legislation."

Which means Democrats and the White House should find their GOP colleagues to be real pussycats this legislative season. The Republicans will be eager to deal on Social Security, education and anything else the White House can dream up and poll-test. Dickerson says the next six months could be a "real bipartisan love-fest" with both sides realizing that when stuff gets done, everybody in Congress looks good. That'll stop the bleeding, but between now and 2000, the GOP still has p.r. problem to fix. "They have to work out who speaks for the party," says Dickerson. "Impeachment has exacerbated this -- there are a lot of complaints from party moderates that the leadership takes its marching orders from the right wing, and that the right wing is no longer working with grassroots America." George W. Bush had better be compassionate as heck -- he's got a party to rebuild.