Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

That classic scene from the Clint Eastwood film, the one where they have the triple gunfight, is a fitting metaphor for the election results. It appears to be a stalemate - a deadlocked government. That's the good news for America this morning. A divided government is the best we could have hoped for in this election since the executive branch was not up for a change. Therefore we end up with the Republicans controlling the Executive branch while the Democrats will control at least one half of the Legislative branch. Each side will work to keep in check the worst initiatives proposed by the other.

The bad news for America may be in the area of foreign policy. For one thing, that's the area that is primarily affected by the Executive branch. The Bush administration has proven so inept at foreign policy that this does not bode well for the next 2 years. To make matters worse, a lot of what the Bush administration has proposed during the previous 6 years has been supported by Democrats. The current line of reasoning from both parties is that we do need to pull out of Iraq, but on our own time line and in an orderly fashion to an Iraqi government that is stable. The translation in that is we're going to attempt the same failed strategy that we tried in the 70s in Vietnam. Very few Democrats stepped forward to demand that we bring troops home right away. Murtha has suggested a year. Kerry has said it may take a year. That's as far as most Democrats have stretched. Others have suggested that it may take longer (could they want to keep a campaign issue open for 2008?). In other words, more Americans will die in a conflict that does not hold any national policy interest for us, costs us a LOT of money that would be better spent at home, was based on lies and misinformation, and has become a recruiting tool for our enemies in the Middle East. All of which is terrible.

So what could the ugly be? Try this: watching Nancy Pelosi attempt to control an agenda with a Democratic Party that features a larger conservative block than in recent memory. Democrats won, but they did so by running conservatives in races where a liberal would not have stood a chance. Working with those conservatives can be done gracefully (as Democrats did in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s) or it can be handled poorly (as Republicans did when they locked out moderates in their party). Plus, Pelosi will need to balance that concern with ultimate negotiations with a divided Senate. On top of that, Democrats, even if they take the Senate, will not have a veto proof majority, meaning Bush can veto bills and they don't have the override votes. Looking towards 2008, it would be wise for Pelosi to focus on issues that she can work with the Bush Administration on in order to show that Democrats can govern and get things done (a major complaint of the current Congress). She can still point out differences, but the overall impression should be one of cooperation while providing oversight.

Note: It appears as if my prediction that the Senate would remain in the GOP's control appears to be shaky at the moment. It could go either way, but no matter how it swings, the margin is going to be so tight that the leaders will need to seriously negotiate in order to accomplish anything.

Suggested media headline: "Democrats celebrate, Republicans hibernate, Media salivates!"


Scott said...

Daily Kos or Americablog pointed out just the opposite. This is the first democratic maojority since the days of the dixiecrats, so we still have a mix, but more liberals/progressives in it than ever before. I lived in Georgia in the early 90's, when the republicans came to power on the promises of renewed Jim Crow (garbage arguments like correcting reverse discrimination), and entitlements for their rich supporters.

As for Nixon, at least it's only two years this time. I remember as a kid watching him run on the "withdraw with dignity" slogan for a second time druing his re-election. I was a kid at the time, and nothing has made me change my naive opinion back then, that he kept us in Vietnam for an extra four years simply as a re-election ploy.

He simply cut and ran soon after the election (a term which fed today's nutjobs though it was describing their policy in 'nam, and had no dignity in it). Casualties were much higher in that war, so w is only the second biggest mass murderer in the history of the US.

While it is nice for now, it could actually be a win-win situation for the republicans. Taxes must be raised to pay for w's adventures and the republicans will undoubtedly blame the dems. Whether we stay and (unsuccessfully) try to soften the tragedy engendered by our departure, or pull another Vietnam, there is no way in Hell Iraq can end well for us, or them. Th American oil companies have done well though.

B.D. said...

Well, the dixiecrats were conservative Democrats. Strom Thurmond was a Dixiecrat. Unless you are referring to another time, I don't understand the point.

My point was/is that Nancy Pelosi won't be able to put forward a very progressive agenda. She'll have to do some horse trading with conservative Democrats and possibly some Republicans in order to get legislation through that is veto proof (or at least passable when it reaches the Senate). If it gets to Bush's desk and he vetoes it then he can begin to paint (and believe me, he'll try) the Democrats as being unreasonable liberals.

So, Pelosi will have to moderate her party. She'll have to stifle the likes of Rangle, Dingle, and McDermott (law firm opening, soon) and not persue impeachment. Investigations, yes, but not impeachment. Plus, she'll have to reign in progressive liberals in order to compromise with conservative Democrats to get anything done.

This is not insurmountable. It was done with great success by the Democratic Congresses of the 1950s and 60s. The political game was different back then, but they proved the case. The question is really is Pelosi up to it and how will she handle it? If she doesn't handle it well, then it could turn very ugly.

I'm not basking in the nuclear glow or drinking the Kool Aid that Kos or Americablog are just yet. Politics is a fierce and petty game.