View Mobile Site

Bush, Pelosi, hold White House talks in effort to move forward from Election Day

WASHINGTON — President Bush made nice with Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi after Democrats gave his Republicans a trouncing on Election Day, but not before handing House GOP leaders a long legislative wish-list for the lameduck session that they’ll orchestrate.
    After a bitter campaign that sometimes got personal between the president and the woman to be House speaker, the two had a makeup luncheon at the White House. Appearing publicly in the Oval Office after an hour of private discussions, the pair emphasized finding common ground and ignoring talk of bedeviling specifics, such as their division over the Iraq war. They took no questions.
    Neither Bush nor Pelosi, however, completely ignored that they often disagree.
    ‘‘When you win, you have a responsibility to do the best you can for the country,’’ Bush said, with Vice President Dick Cheney sitting glumly on a couch to his left. ‘‘We won’t agree on every issue, but we do agree that we love America.’’
    ‘‘We both extended the hand of friendship and partnership to solve the problems facing our country,’’ added Pelosi, like the president, eagerly leaning forward in her chair. ‘‘We have our differences and we will debate them ... but we will do so in a way that gets results.’’
    Bush extended the lunch invitation after this week’s election that will put Democrats in charge of the House and the Senate for the final two years of his presidency. Earlier, after meeting with his Cabinet and Republican leaders from the House and Senate, the president ticked off a to-do list for the current Congress before January’s changeover in power.
    It included: spending bills funding government’s continued operation ‘‘with strong fiscal discipline and without diminishing our capacity to fight the war on terror;’’ legislation retroactively authorizing his warrantless domestic surveillance of suspected terrorists; energy legislation; and congressional approval for a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India and for normalizing trade relations with Vietnam.
    ‘‘The next few weeks are going to be busy ones,’’ the president said in the Rose Garden.
    Bush cast such objectives as a way for both parties to ‘‘rise above partisan differences.’’ But with Democrats skeptical of many of these items, Bush’s plea for Capitol Hill to do things his way — which came just a half-hour before his session with Pelosi — could complicate his effort to reach out to Democrats.
    Ever since Tuesday’s elections, Bush and Pelosi have been pledging to find common ground in a turned-upside-down Washington.
    Both sides have much at stake.
    The last two years of a presidency are difficult times for any Oval Office occupant. In the twilight of power, they must fight lame-duck status to get anything done.
    But Bush is heading into that perilous period after an Election Day that pried his party’s grip from Capitol Hill, in voting widely seen as a rebuke of him and his leadership, particularly on Iraq.
    That makes his domestic wish list — such as adding private accounts to Social Security and permanently extending all tax cuts passed during his administration — not much more than a fantasy, especially for a president who largely has ignored the same Democrats who now will control the legislative agenda.
    Add to that the prospect of Democratic investigations into missteps in the war, treatment of terrorism detainees and Bush’s expansion of executive power, and his next two years could be a headache.
    Democrats, too, have much to lose. If seen as unproductive or too obstructionist, they risk losing their majority — a very slim one in the Senate — in two years. How they govern also could impact the party’s chances in the wide-open race for the White House in 2008.
    Hence all the happy talk about bipartisanship.
    Pelosi, for instance, put any suggestion of impeachment proceedings against Bush ‘‘off the table.’’ She welcomed the president’s move to capitulate to critics and accept the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
    Bush signaled readiness to consider Democratic priorities such as a federal minimum-wage increase and to find compromise on renewing the No Child Left Behind education law, overhauling immigration policy and overhauling budget-busting entitlement programs.
    Yet the two sides remain bitterly divided over Iraq.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Please wait ...