Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The Tuesday after the Thumping
Well, I've had a week to decompress since the election, and I'm definitely coming down from the high. Granted, that high was induced by a combination of 14 straight hours of work, more Election Day conversations with octogenarian voters than I can count, and a bottle of Andre, but it was also the result of the 6 Democratic seat pickups (and no losses) in the Senate, and 28-seat gains by Dems in the House.
The high now subsides as I watch the battle between two fairly conservative Democrats, John Murtha and Steny Hoyer, for Majority Leader; as Joe Lieberman, seeking attention or apologies, threatens to caucus with the GOP and thus tip control in the Senate from the Dems; and as it sinks in that my favored candidate for President in '08, Senator Russ Feingold, has decided not to run.
At least Murtha has made a name for himself of late not for the hawkish foreign policy views he's held in Congress for 30 years, but on his belief that we cannot continue to "stay the course" in Iraq. I heard him on the radio this morning explaining that the US spends $11 Million per hour on the Iraq war, every single day, which is just a terrifying number. And apparently, Speaker-to-be Pelosi is putting her weight pretty heavily behind Murtha - which is a good sign.
But with this Democratic sweep last week, what we're getting is sort of the best we could hope for - two years of gridlock. Perhaps the Dems will be able to push some legislation onto Bush's desk that he'll have to let by - Stem Cell research, minimum wage, and the like - but remember, even some of the seeming no-brainers can be filibustered in the Senate.
The biggest upsides are: 1) Assuming Lieberman shuts his fucking mouth and stays put, Bush will have to seriously moderate his nominations for judges and the like, as they will have to face Democratic-controlled committees. and 2) Even though many of the new Dems elected to the House and Senate are fairly conservative (like North Carolina's Heath Shuler, the onetime college football star and NFL dropout; and Brad Ellsworth, a longtime sherriff in Indiana), a lot of even the conservative ones were essentially running against the Iraq war. So, although I don't expect major changes on Iraq right away, I think Bush will be forced to make some changes.
So, we'll see where things go. But in any case, there's not really any time to rest - those of us on the left have to keep building our movement to hold these crazy politicians accountable.