Dems, GOP buddies? After this election?
I don’t think so!

It's hard to make friends with people who hate you.

In American politics, friendship and camaraderie between members of opposing parties comes and goes. Sometimes civility reigns. Sometimes utter loathing rules.

As the Wilson/Madrid race for New Mexico's U.S. House District 1 showed, we are in period of abject animosity. And it's hard, as I've said, to make friends with people who hate you.

Republicans seem to hate Democrats so much that they'll resort to any tactic, even calling them appeasers of terrorists. So I'm proud of the new Democratic leadership in Congress pledging to try to work with the Republican minority and the Republican president, vowing, in the words of Senate leader Harry Reid, "not to do to them what they've done to us" for more than a decade - that is, largely shut Democrats out of the legislative process.

Though Democrats have every right to despise Republicans, they appear not to. But trying to make friends with Party of Dirty Tricks may be impossible.

Making friends, though, is what healthy politics is all about. As my wife said so prophetically right after 9/ll, "We need to make friends everywhere, but I know we won't." Her fears were not misplaced. Many people in Iraq and in the Muslim world hate us. Most of Europe is against us. We have almost no allies in our scorched-earth brand of the war on terrorism.

Some people in the right-wing media would say that I'm not being fair or balanced. But how do you be balanced when your opponent treats you like dirt?

Look what Rep. Heather Wilson has done with her less-than-900-vote margin of victory, after a vicious smear campaign I hope no one ever forgets. It's one she can't wash off for the rest of her political life.

She says in The Tribune that the closeness of her victory won't influence her views on the Iraq war or apparently on anything else. Now there's someone who cares nothing about representing her whole district.

She'll never make friends with the people who voted against her. That's just beyond her capacity.

And how did making enemies as a Republican election strategy come about? It didn't start with Rove or Gingrich. It probably started in l972, when a Nixon White House dirty-tricks gang planted lies about the wife of then-Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Edmund Muskie. It was a low blow that enraged Muskie, caused him to cry in public and ended his run for the presidency. I'm sure young Republicans all over the country, including Karl Rove, watched and learned from those early masters of dirt.

So while it's all well and good for Democrats to make nice with Republicans, it's important for Democrats never to think that Republicans want to make friends with them. It won't happen. There's nothing close to balance here, and there hasn't been for years.

V.B. Price is an Albuquerque free-lance writer, author, editor and commentator.
November 25, 2006