Senate Democrats have announced plans for a set of hearings during which they will examine the policies and conduct of the Bush administration. Let's hope the proposed hearings don't become farce, like the phony hearing staged this week by Detroit Congressman John Conyers (search) on the legitimacy of last month's election.
In order to do a job that benefits not just Democrats, but makes Republicans accountable and also helps the country, Democrats are going to have to abandon their old strategy of corruption charges and scare tactics.
What would Democrats do differently from — and better than — the Bush administration?
Start with the war. If Democrats allow themselves to be overtaken by the Michael Moore (search) and MoveOn.org wing of their party, they will re-fight the last election with similar results. It isn't enough to be against this war, or any war. Do Democrats recognize evil and the threat it poses to our nation? How would they fight it beyond useless consultations and U.N. resolutions?
Immigration is an area where they might make political hay and do the country some good. The Bush administration has done little to curb illegal immigration and has announced no new policy to do so. Hillary Clinton (search) reportedly is going to come up with a plan to curb illegals coming into this country to help blunt her liberal image. If she does, she may force the administration to do so, as well. This would be a proper and beneficial role for the party out of power.
Democrats must also address cultural issues, but not in ways that sound insincere or phony. Are they willing to offend their abortion-for-any-reason wing and support adoption and curb late-term abortions?
What about same-sex marriage? It was a winning issue for Republicans in the last election. Do Democrats have a plan to strengthen marriage among heterosexuals, even while opposing same-sex marriage?
If Democrats oppose, oppose, oppose just for the sake of opposing, they won't get anywhere. But if they come up with critiques that seem accurate and suggest policies that are better than the administration's, some of those red state voters might sit up and take notice.
Recently we have received letters asking where oh where have the Democrats gone on this show.
Michael Olsen writes, "I just looked at your list of guests ... And I haven't seen a whole lot from the Left side of the aisle. I restively await 'something different.'"
Michael, I couldn't agree more. You can't do a fair and balanced show by talking only to those who agree with you. That's why my staff and I have called over 40 Democratic senators and congressmen from the Left this week alone, inviting them all to be guests on this show. Every single one declined, despite my record of treating those who have come on in the past, like Gov. Mario Cuomo, Congressman Harold Ford, Congressman Charles Rangel and Senator Bill Nelson, fairly and with respect.
Then some of them complain not enough Democrats are on FOX. They can't have it both ways.
I am offering an open invitation to all liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats to come on this show for a polite conversation. Ted Kennedy, are you listening?
And that's Column One for this week.
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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.