In the election afterglow — or in the case of the Democrats, the after gloom — we now get to watch to see which party blows it.

The Democrats, after all, have a huge opportunity here. They get to sit on the sidelines, watch the Republicans move the ball, and criticize when things don't go right. They don't have to leave their fingerprints on mistakes, if there are any.

For democrats, it's a free fire zone — if they are thoughtful, constructive and avoid obstructionism.

If they react in panic, wheel their party into the ditch called the far Left, and if they demonstrate they aren't in control because they don't deserve control, then the Republicans will have won twice.

On the other hand, the Republicans have to remember that arrogance of power is a bad thing. The American people have given them a chance to make good on their promises, to make sure their governance works and is accepted by the great American political middle.

President Bush wanted to fix Homeland Security. He should. He wanted to name judges. He should. He wanted to end the Iraq problem and chase Al Qaeda. He should. He says he wants to put the economy back on track — adios Harvey Pitt — and he should.

But he should avoid the temptation of thinking control of the House and Senate is a sweeping mandate. It is the American people tentatively saying, "Okay. Let's see what you can do. Just don't screw it up."

I think he'll do fine, but the 2004 presidential race started this morning, and the Dems are going to be watching like hawks.

That's My Word .

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