Monday, January 07, 2008

Beyond the Presidential Race

The rest of the country appears to be waking up to the notion that Barack Obama has a fantastic chance of capturing the nomination of his party and, dare I say it, even the Presidency. The latest New Hampshire polling numbers would certainly indicate this at least. On the other hand, thanks to DCap's excellent recent post on the matter, I know now to cast serious doubts as to the veracity of polling data, as from my reading I know it now to be often tremendously overrated, far from objective, and frequently meaningless. Allow me to take a different tact altogether in today's post because the Presidential race is not what I'm seeking to address today. ___________________

The issue thus far flying well under the radar and unreported by any large scale concerns the majority status of the next Congress. The Democratic-led 110th Congress has been largely ineffective, has passed modest reforms, and above all has failed in its elected purpose, which was to pull our troops out of Iraq. Would a Democratic victory in the Presidential race translate to the preservation of its status as party in charge of both legislative bodies? Could it add substantial gains beyond its precarious one-seat Senate margin and less-than-overwhelming majority in the House? Or, has its strategy of conceding to President Bush the majority of his demands to proven to be its ultimate undoing?

No one knows for sure, but what cannot be doubted is that the American people are, by in large, absolutely furious with the so-called leadership of Pelosi and Reid. This degree of anger is felt similarly among a large cross-section of voters, which includes the traditional liberal base of the party, Democratic-leaning independents, and moderates. In retaliation, many otherwise solidly blue voters may vote for independents this go round, or vote instead for any candidate who promises substantive change, regardless of his or her party affiliation. As such, even against a weakened Republican party, Democrats still stand a very real chance of losing the Senate, though losing the House is unlikely to occur.

The deeply fractured GOP may see many of its traditional supporters stay home this cycle, which is the only real chance I see that Democrats have in adding to its 2006 gains. Evangelical voters who have finally found their champion in the person of Mike Huckabee might be far less inclined to vote for John McCain, even a McCain who has taken a much stronger conservative stance than in 2000. One line of thinking claims that, much like Reagan's overwhelming victory in 1980, a Democratic victory in November would have the added benefit of giving several Democratic legislators the ability to ride the presumptive victor's coattails into office. This, of course, presumes that whomever wins the nomination also captures the Presidential election by a substantial majority, which conventional wisdom states will be a tall order to accomplish. Indeed, the last Presidential landslide was in 1984, nearly twenty-five years ago. The best case scenario of 2008 for Democrats might be akin to Clinton's 1996 re-election, which though it was a resounding win, was hardly an overwhelming one.

This much is clear, a Democratic President with a GOP controlled legislature would face gridlock on a massive scale. Furthermore, it should also be said that many Americans, suspicious of any government with an overly ambitious inclination and afraid of the consequences of any party with firm control of both branches, prefer the logjam of a divided Executive and Legislative branch. Should Obama win in November and face a hostile legislative body, his agenda would be severely compromised in the process. Idealistic rhetoric of change aside, he would find his term of office a largely frustrating one, and be able to get few matters of substance passed.


Dr. Zaius said...

I can't say that I agree with you about the Democratic Congress. People should be furious, not at the Democrats, but at the Repulbicans for obstructing the vote to end the war.

There is a meme that is put forth by the media and others that overcoming the Republican's votes in congress is simply a matter of will or discipline, like some climatic scene in action adventure movie. It's tiresome to hear so many people repeat it.

On December 18, 2007, the Republican minority in the Senate set a new record for requiring more cloture votes than any other Senate in history. The Republicans filabustered 62 separate pieces of legislation in the last year, a new record.

"The Democrats' poor batting average in the year since retaking control of Congress is caused primarily by their narrow majority status, which has left them unable to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate, let alone override a presidential veto. On Iraq in particular, Congress this year voted repeatedly to set a timetable for troop withdrawals. Each time, the anti-war measure would scrape by in the House only to sink in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Democrats caucus with a narrow 51-49 majority." AP

And that whole "just stop the funding" meme was tried during the Vietnam war, and it didn't work then either, and the Democrats had a better margin in those days I believe, and even more public support than they have now. Chuck Colson (of all people!) talked about this at length a while back on CSPAN in relation to the struggles of the present congress. It took the President's resignation to end that war, and you can't impeach the present president for these reasons, and especially this one.

But the media continues to just echo Chris Mathews and that crowd.

Distributorcap said...

you bring up a good point --- that while we so focus on the presidential race --- there are congressional races to be considered

and how disappointing this congress has been -- sure you can really attibute the lack of progress to republican obstruction -- that is very true

but what is hard to argue with is the lack of fight you see from Pelosi and Reid with respect to the war and the fact they talk one way and act another

nancy early on said == no more blank checks -- i get it, the repubs made it difficult if not impossible -- but you see zero fight from her and her minions and often total capitulation.

are they afraid of bush or rush? i think they are more afraid of rush and hannity ---