Friday, November 10, 2006

Oh-oh! What Do We Do Now?

Well, President Bush and the Republicans misread the polls, didn’t understand just how upset the voters were, didn’t do the right things to preserve their congressional majorities, and now the Democrats, who have no plans to fix all the problems they say we have, find themselves in charge of the Congress. The age-old advice, “be careful what you ask for,” is echoing through the halls of the Capital already. The Senate majority is a 51-49 squeaker, but they have a slightly more comfortable 14-seat edge in the House; neither of those gives the Democrats a lock on passing legislation, even if they had something in the mill, or even an idea for legislation to address all the problems they told us the Bush administration has caused.

Now that all the celebrating is over, the reality of what has happened is likely starting to sink in. Most smart Democrats didn’t really want to win both the House and the Senate, they really only wanted the House. Total control of Congress poses problems for the 2008 Presidential Election; with control of both houses of Congress comes the responsibility to perform, and there is no Republican Senate to blame if things don’t get done. They also have to worry about being able to override a veto of any legislation that President Bush thinks is over-the-top.

The liberal fringe to which Speaker-in-Waiting Nancy Pelosi has been so closely aligned is probably not going to be happy when she does as Speaker what she must do, which is to run the House in a responsible manner, and that means she can’t advance the agenda of the left-wingers.

The backing and filling has already begun, with Democrats proclaiming their willingness to work with the President to move America forward; Charles Rangel has already revised his earlier pledge to undo the Bush tax cuts; the blustering about beginning impeachment hearings has already been toned down to “we must investigate as a part of responsible oversight.” And while the hearings that are bound to follow may be motivated either by pure gutter politics or a genuine effort at oversight, it’s a question of whether the Democrats can make it look like legitimate oversight instead of getting even with George Bush for winning election.

It’s “put up or shut up” time for the Democrats. Whether they look like petty pols or statesmen is in their hands. It will be an interesting time.

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