Nunn: Partisan polarization is a major problem. We must begin to restore our standing, influence & credibility in the world. Jan. 7 meeting scheduled.
Former U.S. senator Sam Nunn of Georgia has put himself at the center of a bipartisan effort to force both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to spell out plans for a “government of national unity” that would put an end to Washington gridlock.
He and former Senate colleague David Boren of Oklahoma have put their names to a letter summoning a dozen middle-of-the-road members of both parties to a Jan. 7 meeting at the University of Oklahoma [that reads in part as follows:]
Our political system is, at the least, badly bent and many are concluding that it is broken at a time where America must lead boldly at home and abroad. Partisan polarization is preventing us from uniting to meet the challenges that we must face if we are to prevent further erosion of America’s power of leadership and example.
The next president of the United States will be faced with what has been described as a “gathering storm” both at home and abroad. Serious near term challenges include the lack of a national strategy to deal with our fiscal challenges, our educational challenges, our energy challenges, our environmental challenges, as well as the dangerous turbulence triggered by the current financial crisis.
In the national security arena, our nation must rebuild and reconfigure our military forces. We must develop a viable and sustainable approach to nuclear proliferation and terrorism and greatly strengthen our intelligence and diplomatic capabilities. Most importantly, we must begin to restore our standing, influence, and credibility in the world. Today, we are a house divided. We believe that the next president must be able to call for a unity of effort by choosing the best talent available - without regard to political party - to help lead our nation.
To say the obvious, the presidential debates thus far have produced little national discussion of these and other fundamental issues and plans to address them. If this pattern continues through this important national election, it will produce neither a national consensus for governing nor a president who can successfully tackle these threats to our nation’s future. We understand the rough and tumble part of the political process, but without a modicum of civility and respect in our debates, forming a bipartisan consensus on the major issues after the election will be virtually impossible.
The Washington Post discussed this development under a headline that reads: "Bipartisan Group Eyes Independent Bid -- First, Main Candidates Urged To Plan 'Unity' Government."
The Post article notes:
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, has scheduled a meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, who will join him in challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a "government of national unity" to end the gridlock in Washington.
Those who will be at the Jan. 7 session at the University of Oklahoma say that if the likely nominees of the two parties do not pledge to "go beyond tokenism" in building an administration that seeks national consensus, they will be prepared to back Bloomberg or someone else in a third-party campaign for president.
Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Boren, who will host the meeting at the university, where he is president, said: "It is not a gathering to urge any one person to run for president or to say there necessarily ought to be an independent option. But if we don't see a refocusing of the campaign on a bipartisan approach, I would feel I would want to encourage an independent candidacy."
The list of acceptances suggests that the group could muster the financial and political firepower to make the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Time notes that this group includes "[w]ho’s who of [the] centrists" and that the announcement of the scheduled meeting is a "moderate shock to the body politic."
In a 12-5-07 post I introduced a series of 13 past posts from the Cracker Squire Archives on "Bring it on Sam Nunn, bring it on."
These posts can be reviewed by going to the Archives section to the left and scrolling down to December 2007.