This year-end marks a political changing of the guard. It was a year of mixed blessings. The economy is booming, unemployment is down, the results of No Child Left Behind’s accountable education are encouraging, the prescription drug benefits program is a big success, the Department of Homeland Security is in its fifth year of post 9-11 success, the deficit reduction is ahead of schedule, the cattle market has remained strong, the drought has broken for a large part of America, but ...

It’s not enough to overcome our deep concern about how to deal with terrorism overseas, the continuing financial gap between the upper middle class and the lower middle class, the irony of the real danger of terrorist infiltration and a border so porous hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of illegals cross back and forth to Mexico every year.

It would be such a gift to us all, such a relief, to see our President and our Congress find common ground. It is so easy for us to find fault, to cover our behinds, to look for blame, to assume that the only way I can look better is to make somebody else look worse. When a politician admits he took “tainted money” but justifies it by saying that his opponent took more, it makes us realize what political power can do to once-honest citizens.

I saw a list of 27 servicemen who have received the highest medals for bravery since 9-11. It also noted that Lance Cpl. Dominic Escuibel was awarded the Navy Cross – but declined to accept it. I know a WWII veteran who was awarded the Silver Star but declined. He explained that there were so many who gave so much more that he didn’t feel comfortable taking it.

Two years ago in the election, the media and our politicians spent an inordinate amount of time trying to diminish John Kerry’s and George W. Bush’s service to the country. Statistics say that less than 1 percent of our population has served in the military. From clerks to five-star generals, from National Guard members to Navy Seals, they’re all, every one, deserving of our respect and thanks.


As a result of this election, we can begin a new direction. May the winners be generous in victory and the losers gracious in defeat. We have examples to follow. In 2001, after a contentious presidential election, former Vice President Al Gore conceded, acknowledging that to continue the battle would be destructive to the country.

Last month after his party’s electoral rebuff, President Bush continued to avoid any personal attacks on his political opponents and reached out to the newly elected congressional leaders. For all our sakes, let’s hope our new government can live up to the honorable example of Lance Cpl. Esquibel. He represents the best of us. PD

Baxter Black on the edge of common sense