The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

September 19, 2007

Russert says country needs bipartisanship

LEWISBURG — The 2008 presidential race is wide open, veteran NBC newsman and best-selling author Tim Russert said Tuesday night in kicking off the Bucknell Forum’s national speakers series.

But Mr. Russert, speaking at a packed Weis Center for the Performing Arts on the Bucknell University campus, said the political situation in Washington is “poisonous” and that the next president must bring the country together on significant issues as diverse as the war in Iraq, health care and Social Security.

“We are capable of doing this if we are willing to accept a simple notion, that one party and one ideology does not have a monopoly on the truth,” the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” said. “If you look at World War II, if you look at the national highway system, if you look at our higher education system, if you look at all the things we’ve done as a nation which have made the quality of our life in this country second to none, it has been done with bipartisanship.

“Sometimes one party is leading the effort more than another, but in the end people come together and find a consensus and say this is the right thing to do.”

That is what is so lacking in Washington, he said.

“The situation there is now poisonous,” Mr. Russert said. “People don’t want to talk to each other. They want to fight. They want to arm for the next election.”

He said with 390 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House deemed “safe seats … There is no incentive to reach across the aisle and try to achieve common good.”

The media, he said, plays a crucial role in this process.

“We can put people on from the far right and far left and let them go at it like caged animals. Or, we can try to find people who are also trying to find solutions and answers who have legitimate and serious differences,” he said.

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