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Be careful what you run on
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Democrats won the Congress, and as Robert Reich notes, they won it primarily on two issues - Iraq and the economy and their claim they could "do it better".

One problem - they have little or no control over either.
Like the decisions of George Bush as commander-in-chief of the military, the decisions of Ben Bernanke and his Open Market Committee — the commanders-in-chief of the economy — are beyond democratic control.
While the CIC is a bit over the top as a description of Bernanke, Reich's point is valid. The guys / institutions who have the most control or influence in those two areas don't work for them.

Unfortunately for the Dems, and based on how they ran their Congressional campaign, the majority of the voting public now hold them responsible for both.

Iraq reality:
The president remains commander-in-chief until January 2009. And in that role, according to the Constitution, he has the authority to decide defense policy and military strategy. Unlike Lyndon Johnson, who felt the pressure in 1967 when public opinion turned against the Vietnam War, President Bush is not up for reelection, so public opinion won’t sway him. The president said recently he'll stay the course in Iraq — even though the administration's own intelligence review says our presence there is causing more terrorism, not less.
Other than cut off funding (something Nancy Pelosi has said they won't do) and oodles and gobs of inquiries and hearings there's really not much Congress can do to influence Iraq if Bush digs his heels in. The Constitution gives him the final say. However, right or wrong, those that voted the Dems into office aren't going to accept their powerlessness as a legitimate excuse. They said they could do something about it and now it is expected.

[As a side note, and speaking strictly politically, it seems that had Republicans kept control of Congress it was in their best interest to end the war prior to the '08 election. Now it may be in their best interest to keep it going through the '08 campaign and blame the Dems.]

Economic reality:
The economy is also out of the hands of Democrats or the American electorate, notwithstanding that most Americans say they don't like the way it's being handled. Because of the huge budget deficits, fiscal policy can't be used to fine tune the economy. The only lever that counts any more is monetary policy, which means Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Board's Open Market Committee are the only game in town. Bernanke said last week that outside of the automobile and housing sectors, economic growth remains solid, and a tight labor market could spur inflation. Translated, this means the Fed won't lower interest rates. It may even raise them.
Certainly Bernanke and the boys are a big economic influencer and that group is outside the control or influence of the Congress (by design). Again, right or wrong, if the economy goes south, the Dems are positioned perfectly to take the political fall.

While all of this, unfortunately, speaks to the basic ignorance of a vast sea of voters on how all of this works, politically that's irrelevant. When you sell yourself on some nebulous slogan such as being able to do a "better job" in areas you have no real control and and you get the job, you'd better be able to deliver. Right or wrong if people buy into your sales pitch and you don't deliver, there will be political consequences.

If we're still in Iraq in '08 with an economy going sour at the same time, Nancy Pelosi may find herself having enjoyed one of the shortest Speakerships in Congressional history. And I, for one, would have a tough time mustering much sympathy for the plight of her or the Democrats.
 
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Unfortunately for the Dems, and based on how they ran their Congressional campaign, the majority of the voting public now hold them responsible for both.
And Krugman predicted a recession! HAW HAW HAW

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Im not so sure about this. I think most votes believe teh president has complete control over everything. The media is still pushing the "its Bush’s Fault" slogan. I dont think voters will blame the deams too much.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
I think most votes believe teh president has complete control over everything. The media is still pushing the "its Bush’s Fault" slogan. I dont think voters will blame the deams too much.
If Iraq was the issue and voters put the Dems into office based on their dissatisfaction with how Iraq was going, are you claiming they knew nothing would happen but did it anyway?

And how do you discount the fact that the Dems continually said, speaking of Iraq specifically, that they would do a better job if elected?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I thought the Democrats ran on oversight and pointed to Iraq as something that badly needed oversight.

Doesn’t fit the meme?

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I thought the Democrats ran on oversight and pointed to Iraq as something that badly needed oversight.
Did they? And will the voting public break out the "nuance" which separates "oversight" from ’doing something’?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’m skeptical that any noticeable percentage of the public will even remember in 2008 what the Dems campaigned on in 2006. AFAICT there was no overarching marketing theme a la "Contract With America" or "It’s the economy, stupid" — just individual decisions by many Dem candidates to use the handy rhetorical clubs that happened to be lying around.

I expect that in 2008, as in most elections, all incumbents will be held more or less equally responsible for the state of the union in general, and they’ll all do their usual scramble to try to take credit for the good stuff and fingerpoint the bad.
 
Written By: kenB
URL: http://
Unfortunately for the Dems, and based on how they ran their Congressional campaign, the majority of the voting public now hold them responsible for both.
Your contempt for the intelligence of the American people knows no bounds. Of course the American people know that he fault for the Iraq debacle lies at the feet of Bush and the GOP.

Americans understand that the president is responsbile for foreign policy. That he is the commander in chief. That he says how many troops we have there. That he dictates the policies in Iraq.

If Americans had the chance in ’06, they would have tossed Bush out on his ass. But they didn’t have the chance. So they did the next best thing. They tossed out his enablers.

Iraq will grow only worse in the next two years. And come ’08, when the Dem incumbents are up against their GOP challengers, what do you think the challengers are going to say? Elect me, because the GOP will make things better in Iraq? Do you really believe that Americans are going to buy that line?

GOP = Iraq = Failure. It’s going to take a generation for Americans to forget this simple equation.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Your contempt for the intelligence of the American people knows no bounds.
Only certain American people, MK, you among them.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Hey Mk, I don’t know what you’re talking about - the Dem’s take control of the House and Senate and bang, Paul Krugman is predicting a recession.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Hey Mk, I don’t know what you’re talking about - the Dem’s take control of the House and Senate and bang, Paul Krugman is predicting a recession.
The Dem’s didnt win 70 seats, and as Ann Coulter pointed out if they won anything less than that they may as well go away as a political party.

So this is just a temporary blip before Democrats disappear.

So any recession will be the Republicans responsibility since Dem’s don’t really exist anymore.
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
If we are still in Iraq in 2008, Hillery will mop the floor with McCain.

That might be a good oportunity for isolationist libertarians, civil libertarians and finantial libertarians to spin off from the republican party and give us fiscal conservative, social liberals a party to call our own.


 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Other than cut off funding (something Nancy Pelosi has said they won’t do) and oodles and gobs of inquiries and hearings there’s really not much Congress can do to influence Iraq if Bush digs his heels in. The Constitution gives him the final say.
The way I’ve always understood it, the President’s power, via his authority as CIC, only extends as far as Congress’ declarations of war. Only Congress has the power to declare war. Doesn’t this imply a power to declare war over? Apart from defunding?

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: peter jackson
URL: www.liberalcapitalist.com
Only certain American people, MK, you among them.
I understand that you are upset with people like me. For the past few years we have been telling you that Iraq is a disaster, and that going in was a mistake of epic proportions. Now that it turns out we were exactly correct, you are mad at us.

What a surprise.

Now you want to peddle the meme that Iraq is the Dems’ fault, or that people will believe that, or whatever. And then you get even more upset when someone points out that the meme has no basis in fact, and that it will therefore find no traction, and that it only has legs because bloggers are saying it does, even though it doesn’t.

Your contempt is understandable. I would also be very mad if someone took a positition diametirically opposed to mine and that person turned out to be right.



 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Because of the huge budget deficits, fiscal policy can’t be used to fine tune the economy.
Fiscal policy has NEVER been able to "fine tune" the economy. Wasn’t this sort of thinking discredited 30 years ago?
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
Wow. I hadn’t noticed that before. You’re right. Even Paul Krugman has pointed out that fiscal policy is a bad tool for economic management.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Your contempt is understandable. I would also be very mad if someone took a positition diametirically opposed to mine and that person turned out to be right.
Heh heh, you must have been really pissed from about Novermber of 2003 till now....
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

 
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