Barring a terror attack between now and Tuesday (or ten or so additional deviants being dragged from the shadows) the result of this Seinfeld election is going to be the most narrowly divided House in many years. I really can't call the outcome any closer than a 3-5 seat majority for either party. In the Senate it may well be even closer, from tied to +3.
Given that the Republicans both in the House and in the Senate lacked the discipline to execute the party platform with a 28 seat current majority in the House and a 10 seat majority in the Senate along with the fact that the Senate will have 8-10 egotists whose main focus over the next two years will be to provide proof as to their unsuitability to hold the office of President I believe it fair to say that the remainder of President Bush's legislative agenda; social security privatization, energy independence and the extension of the tax cuts beyond the idiotic sunset dates set by legislators more interested in an election issue than sober policy determination will be remanded to an uncertain but probably parlous future.
I do not hold the President responsible in any way for the lackluster performance of the legislature. The idea of establishing the little gang which couldn't shoot anyone but themselves (good shooting DeWine and Chafee) was not the President's idea and reining in egos as unchecked as those of Keating 5 McCain and his trusty lighter than a breeze companion is a task no mere mortal would attempt. Nor is it the President's responsibility to maintain discipline in a House whose members have become just a tad out of touch with the purpose for which they were sent to Washington.
Regardless of which party has nominal control of either or both houses, the truth of the matter is that 110th Congress will make the 109th look like a model of industry. If you find the muddle in the middle appealing, you're going to love '07-'08.
There are two interesting aspects of such an outcome. The first is that there will almost certainly be some rather tough battles regarding leadership positions in both parties and in both houses. Frist's departure makes the struggle inevitable for the Republicans in the Senate (my money is on McConnell as the new leader) and Dingy Harry's dirty laundry makes it unlikely that he will be the leader in the Senate on the Democrat side (I have no horse in that race - should they all pull up lame it would be a very satisfactory outcome). In the House, I expect that Miz Clinton's minions, led by Rahm Emanuel, will shove Pelosi aside in favor of a faux centrist who will be more amenable to being steered from Chapauqua. I also expect Speaker Hastert to be moved aside through a concerted effort by Boehner and Blount. The Speaker has grown too slow and lacks the will to wield a decent whip. He also lacks a decent whip but that's another story.
The second interesting aspect is the President's freedom to act over the next two years without consideration for the next election. Cheney isn't going to be running and that leaves Bush more free than even Truman was, given that Barkely did have some hopes for the '52 nomination. It can be argued that Eisenhower felt little constraint due to his antipathy for Nixon but he actually did provide Nixon with several opportunities to advance himself in '59-60 and was not actually faced by situations where political freedom to act was of great import. Reagan certainly acted in a somewhat circumscribed manner in '87-'88 in deference to GHWB's plans to run. I suppose that the last time that a President lacked political constraints concerning the ambitions of his Vice-President was at the end of the Coolidge administration. Coolidge cared even less for Dawes than Eisenhower is said to have for Nixon. Coolidge didn't face any situations where political constraints made any difference regarding actions by the Executive either.
I have no idea what effect the political freedom to act might have upon the President's choices in the arenas in which Executive power are exercised but I believe certain actions regarding the situation in the Middle East which have been off the table due to elective political considerations are now definitely on the table. Ahmadinejad, Sadr and Maliki may all be receiving wake up calls rather soon. I just don't think that President Bush is going to kick the can any further down the road. Considering the lack of quality of the crew of aspirants to the presidency currently upon the field, the President would be doing the country a true disservice should he choose not to attempt resolve an end both to Iran's nuclear aspirations and to the unwillingness of Iraq's elected government to impose the order necessary for democracy to be attempted. I cannot believe that the President will fail to make a vigorous attempt.
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