Tuesday, June 14, 2005

President Bush last night ripped the Democratic Party as do-nothing obstructionists bent on derailing his reform agenda, saying that on issue after issue, Democratic leaders in Congress ‘stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership.’

At an evening congressional gala at the Washington Convention Center — which drew $23 million for House and Senate Republican candidates and amounted to the kickoff of the 2006 political campaign season — the president drew standing ovations from Republican faithful as he hammered Democrats for offering no solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems.

‘If leaders of the other party have innovative ideas, let’s hear them. But if they have no ideas or policies except obstruction, they should step aside and let others lead,’ Mr. Bush said to thunderous applause from more than 5,000 supporters.

The president, who has spent the past several months seeking consensus on his Social Security reform package and reaching out to Democrats with nonconfrontational rhetoric, said opposition party leaders are pursuing ‘the philosophy of the stop sign, the agenda of the roadblock, and our country and our children deserve better.’

‘Political parties that choose the path of obstruction will not gain the trust of the American people,’ he said at the event dubbed ‘the 2005 President’s Dinner.’

Mr. Bush said political parties can take one of two approaches: ‘One approach is to lead, to focus on the people’s business, to take on the tough problems, and that is exactly what our party is doing.

‘The other approach is to simply do nothing, to delay solutions, obstruct progress, refuse to take responsibility. Members of the other party have worked with us to achieve important reforms on some issues, yet too often, their leadership prefers to block the ideas of others.’

Democrats have filibustered John R. Bolton, Mr. Bush’s nominee to become ambassador to the United Nations; blocked his judicial nominees, some for as long as four years; and demanded that he withdraw his idea to create personal Social Security retirement accounts before they will offer their own plan or negotiate in earnest over Republican proposals.

Congressional leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have also blocked the president’s energy bill, his medical-liability reform legislation and his plan to extend his tax-relief plan beyond its 2010 expiration date.

‘We hear ‘no’ to making tax relief permanent, we hear ‘no’ to Social Security reform, we hear ‘no’ to confirming federal judges, we hear ‘no’ to a highly qualified U.N. ambassador, we hear ‘no’ to medical-liability reform. On issue after issue, they stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership,’ he said to resounding applause.

On Congress’ first full day back to work after their Memorial Day recess, Mr. Bush said he is proud to ‘be the head of a party that has a positive and hopeful and optimistic vision for every single person that lives in this country.’

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois also spoke at the gala, taking aim at Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who has spent the past few months deriding Republicans in Congress.

‘I was hoping that Governor Dean could make it tonight,’ Mr. Frist said of the former Vermont governor. ‘But sadly, he’s too busy to make it. He’s too busy helping us expand the Republican majority.’

The senator, a doctor like the DNC chairman, invoked a James Bond villain in saying that obstructionist tactics have forced the Democrats to ‘change Dr. Dean’s nameplate over at the DNC to ‘Dr. No.”

Mr. Hastert also lashed out at the agenda of ‘the other side of the aisle.’

‘It is not enough to be against everything: What are their ideas’ While Republicans are working to meet the needs of the American people, the Democrats are in meetings to figure out what the heck to do with Howard Dean.’

To laughter and applause, Mr. Hastert delivered the punch line: ‘And between you and I, they might have the tougher challenge.’

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