Friday, November 17, 2006


Jonah Goldberg on Trent Lott as the new minority whip. His thinking almost exactly mirrors my own, but I have a vague sense that Goldberg dislikes Lott more than I do.

Now that the Democrats have retaken Congress, herewith are my predictions:

1. This will be the do-nothing Congress. The Democrats will owe their victory to public dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and a string of scandals bearing GOP fingerprints. Other than two excellent SCOTUS justices, the only accomplishments of the GOP in the last six years have been a flood of red ink and an unfunded border fence authorization. About these, the Democrats can do nothing substantive that they are likely to do. Their refrain is that the war is being "mismanaged," but they will not try to "defund" it in a way that will put their imprimatur on a policy of "cut and run." Nor will they weaken the iron triangle of K-street lobbyists, bureaucrats, and congressional staffers; after, their view is that there are no bad processes, only bad Republicans.

2. The name of the game will be avoiding responsibility. Other than, say, human cloning, the Democrats will not launch any bold new initiatives. There is no mandate for them, and they know it. Instead, we will watch them consign any conservative initiatives to subcommittee hell, as one pundit put it. The border fence will not be funded and will not be constructed. Appelate court nominees will not receive hearings, nor votes. The Child Custody Protection Act will disappear from the Congressional calendar. But the flip side of this is that there will be no new gun control laws passed. (The Dems learned this lesson in '94.) Kyoto will not be implemented. Healthcare will not be further nationalized. And, if I may go way out on a limb, the President will probably NOT be impeached.

3. So what CAN we expect from a Democrat congress? Its primary function will be to harass the executive with endless hearings and subpoenas, all in an effort to embarrass the president. They will conjure "scandals" at every move the President makes. His every enforcement of the law will be portrayed as its violation. Every military and covert operation will generate its own set of hearings. Every effort to defend America's security will be criticised.

4. Congressional Republicans may recover their soul, but the odds are, at best, 50/50. They can't criticize the war without making themselves and their party even weaker. They can criticise runaway spending, but unless Bush, who has never shown the least resistance to it after six years, joins them in their criticism, this, too, only serves to highlight the party's disarray.

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