Democratic leaders, responding to their party's vocal anti-war base, repeatedly say they have a mandate to correct Mr. Bush's war policy, but a poll shows their stewardship of the nation's legislative branch is receiving tepid reviews. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll shows 35 percent approve of Congress' job performance, a five-point dip in a month that brings it near Mr. Bush's low job-approval numbers.
Democrats say the poll indicates their Iraq efforts are overshadowing progress on other initiatives, and that rising gasoline prices are hurting attitudes toward Congress, which historically has low approval ratings.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, acknowledged that the gridlock is talking a toll.
Now I, for one, like gridlock and, as it turns out, that's pretty much what we have. The Democrats obsession with Iraq, driven by Netroots, has been very detrimental to their image as an effective body. And, it has also shown a level of ineptness which they claimed previously was solely a trait of the Republicans. Their obsession with Iraq will continue to highlight that problem as well as stall their domestic legislative agenda. In the end, that benefits Republicans.
Interestingly, it's not at all clear they've figured this out yet:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the Democratic Caucus chairman, said the focus on Iraq is understandable because it is the "most important problem facing our country."
"Indeed, it would be strange if Congress was not attempting to forge a new direction in Iraq," Emanuel spokesman Nick Papas said. "The president's strategy for Iraq clearly isn't working. Congress has the power of the purse and a duty to conduct real, meaningful oversight."
Here we see the crux of the problem. The continued attempt by Democrats to have it both ways. They want to "conduct real, meaningful oversight" while pretending that their highest priority is funding and supporting the troops who they claim to care so much about. And they attempt to juggle both balls in the legislative air while further attempting to avoid any responsibility for the outcome in Iraq.
As Emanuel rightly points out, "Congress has the power of the purse", but they refuse to exercise in the one and only definitive way it should be used to stop the war: by defunding it. That's because defunding would mean they, Democrats, would have to take responsibility for the war's outcome. And they would also lose the ability to claim they supported the troops.
So we will continue to see these inept attempts to stop the war without taking responsibility continue while the rest of their agenda languishes. Sure, there is certainly pressure on the administration to show progress in Iraq. But, as the poll numbers indicate, there's also other pressure building. At some point, in order to move their agenda along, the Democrats, in the face of an unyielding Bush, are going to have to fish or cut bait. That is, actually take a stand on Iraq which entails a level of responsibiliity for its outcome. That is if they plan on retaining Congress in '08.
If they don't - and I'm betting they don't have the stones necessary to do so - then I'm of the opinion that Congress, in both houses, is completely in play in the next election and wouldn't at all be surprised if the Republicans again take the majority, regardless of who wins the presidency.
they, Democrats, would have to take responsibility for the war’s outcome.
I doubt the voters agree.
Their obsession with Iraq will continue to highlight that problem as well as stall their domestic legislative agenda.
Their legislative agenda is being stalled by Republican filibustering in the Senate and presidential vetoes, not Iraq.
This will be a theme of the next off-year election, and there’s no reason, assuming the agenda is popular, that the voters won’t punish the obstructionists. I heard that argument a lot from Republicans a few years ago, though it didn’t work out well for them at the time.
If they don’t - and I’m betting they don’t have the stones necessary to do so - then I’m of the opinion that Congress, in both houses, is completely in play in the next election and wouldn’t at all be surprised if the Republicans again take the majority, regardless of who wins the presidency.
Entertaining, but foolish. The war is unpopular. Who will voters punish: the opposition party trying and failing to stop the war, or the minority party obstructing their efforts and identifying themselves with the war?
Furthermore, 08 will be a coattail election. The ones who win the presidency will pick up seats. I’d bet a cool hundred dollars on that in a heartbeat if Tradesports had a contract for it.
It’s like I said. The oft quoted 60% or more that is dissatisfied with Iraq come in two flavors. Those upset we haven’t won and those upset we are there at all. The former sees no glory in packing up and going home right now either. They may also be the lesser of that 60%, but still enough to explain poles like we see here.