On the face of things President Bush has accepted the Republican’s election defeat. Meeting with Democrat leaders of the Senate all appeared conciliatory, with bipartisanship the order of the day as the two camps pledged to work together, despite the last six years of bitter combat.
However Bush may seek to steal a last march on the Democrats before the new congress sits in January. He has some seven weeks to push through policy while the Republicans continue to control things, but it appears the major problem that has not gone away is Iraq, and foreign policy, and here bipartisanship may quickly break down. After Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation the Democrats may soon be claiming a second major scalp, that of US envoy to the UN John Bolton.
Bush appears determined to ask Congress to confirm Bolton as the permanent ambassador, something that proved divisive last year. However, with a Republican senator promising he will block the appointment allied with the Democrats, Bush looks to be heading for another defeat.
Democrats have also been quick to build on the momentum of Rumsfeld’s departure, insisting changing the Secretary of Defence does not mean policy on Iraq will change. Iraq is the issue that won the election for the Democrats, and they are not about to let go of it.