- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

Folk singers Simon and Garfunkle might consider a reprise of their classic 1960s hit, "Mrs. Robinson." Only instead of lamenting the disappearance of Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, the songsters could ask, "Where have you gone, congressional Republicans? … The GOP has left and gone away."
Anyone paying attention to recent news may have noticed the absence of Republican leaders or leadership. Whether it was Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott arguing in favor of making a beeline for the safety of the hinterlands or the quiescence of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, it has been left mostly to the president and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, such as Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle, to provide visible leadership and direction to a public that could stand a little of both. Things are so quiet on the Republican front you'd almost think there was nothing more significant than Halloween on the horizon. Meanwhile, we're not only dealing with the seismic after-effects of Sept. 11 (economically, socially and militarily), but our capital is under biological attack. Our troops are engaged in a far-flung battle on a distant continent against an intractable enemy. Financial markets are jittery and fragile. Few situations of the past half-century even approach the seriousness of the present moment a moment that practically cries out for an assertive show of strength and resolve. Mostly, again, this has been left to congressional Democrats to demonstrate, especially Mr. Daschle, who is clearly the most effective Democratic voice to counter President Bush's.
At least Bush administration officials, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, have been both as visible and as proactive as possible. Both men seem to be working hard to anticipate and prepare for whatever Osama bin Laden and his thugs might cook up next and have gone to great lengths to be seen at the center of things. We could stand to see a little more of secretive Surgeon General David Satcher, though. While he has made appearances on CNN and other talking-head programs to discuss the biological attacks, his office should probably get a little more aggressive and more in the public eye. It's not likely most Americans could pick out his photo, or even know his name.
The same goes only much more so for the Republicans in Congress, particularly those in leadership positions, such as Messrs. Lott and Hastert. If they can't provide leadership and direction now, voters may understandably begin to wonder why they deserve to remain in their current positions come election time.

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