The 'F' Word

Vice President Dick Cheney addresses an audience of business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Monday, March 29, 2004. Cheney asserted that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry would sweep away a host of Bush administration-sponsored tax cuts if elected. AP

During the 1960 campaign, former President Harry Truman said the Republicans could go to hell. Candidates Nixon and Kennedy were asked for comment.

Nixon was highly offended by Truman's language. He said if elected, he hoped to maintain the standard set by Eisenhower who had in Nixon's words restored dignity, decency and good language to the White House after Truman left. Kennedy said only that he doubted he could do much to change the 76-year-old Truman. `Maybe Mrs. Truman can,' Kennedy said, `but I don't think I can.'

That's about where I come down on Vice President Cheney's now famous directions to Senator Leahy. The guy lost his temper. These things happen. It's not the word that bothers me but that we are seeing yet again an example of just how sour our politics has become.

Years of nasty, anything-goes campaigns have spilled over into the legislative process and poisoned the atmosphere so badly the two sides have trouble even identifying common goals. Ask anyone on either side. They will tell you the partisan divide has grown so wide people in Congress no long even know each other nor do they want to. Gridlock has become the norm in Washington. Unable to make progress on major issues, the two sides spend endless hours bickering about small matters in order to torment each other for partisan gain — which is fine for them, but it's costing the rest of us a lot of money. That's the obscene part.

By Bob Schieffer
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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