Friday, November 03, 2006
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.


Doug said...

My guess is the pubs hold them both.
If so, some of you math wizards should do an analysis of the accuracy and historical need for pollsters to make races closer toward election day in order to supposedly preserve their non-existent reputations.

Once again the pubs will lose some votes to the exit polls, despite the new quarantine plan.

FWIW: (not that it changes his flawed character)
Lifetime Conservative rankings:
Chaffee: 52%
Pelosi 3%

Doug said...

If the pubs do hold, at least public pressure will be able to enable the House to keep the President and the Senate from doing any more serious damage re: illegal immigration.

terrye said...

I gotta say I have no idea what to expect from Ellsworth, he is promising everybody everything.

I hope Hostettler wins, but they say he is a goner. The campaign has been a real drag.

chuck said...

I kinda see 50/50 too, like the country has been since 2000. The amazing thing is that this balance has held out against the worst efforts of the media and the left. Whatever else may be said of Bush, when he leaves office the landscape will have changed forever. The reputations of such as the NYTimes and the networks has has fallen into the toilet and an amazing number of our leaders, thinkers, and pundits have been lighted up parading down main street in the nude.

The balance, I think, is tilting right. If Steele wins in MD I see the end of one more Democratic constituency, an ending that will no doubt be helped by such as Esquire calling Steele, Swann, and Blackwell lawn jockeys. The Maryland election could be the shot heard round the country. A million here, a million there, soon there will be a genuine majority.

Rick Ballard said...


Neither Chaffee nor DeWine were reliable on judges. Nor would either do a thing to advance your concept of a solution to the immigration issue.

I think that the Reps will hold the Senate but at 51-52 rather than their current majority. Snowe and Collins are both consistently unreliable, as are Mr. Ego and his flunkey. Warner is on his last lap but still seeking the limelight and still only moderately reliable. Specter serves another planet. An undisciplined majority in the Senate (which is the usual state of affairs regardless of the party in theoretical "control") isn't going to effectively pursue any particular agenda. That's not a bad thing per se but there is the definite possibility of one or two more court vacancies and we'll probably be looking at Souter 'light' candidates rather than another Alito or Roberts. That's rather unfortunate.


Ellsworth can't afford to tie himself to Pelosi. He really appears to be a real moderate and if he wants to keep his seat he'll be taking direction from Emanuel. I sure hope that there's a particularly bloody fight to oust Pelosi.

loner said...

Best guess:

Democrats pick up 20+ seats in the House and 4+ in the Senate. I've always believed that Iraq would end up being the deciding issue and the only question now is as to how decisive it will be. I will be looking for further deterioration in the Republican position in the Northeast over the weekend.

Frist was the most ineffective Senate Majority Leader of my lifetime and the only consolation in that is the surety that he'll not be President in my lifetime because of it. McConnell would be a good choice. Reid and Pelosi will continue to lead the Democrats. In the House, I expect that Republicans will dismiss their Midwestern leadership and go South and/or West.

I'm not sure what it is that the President can do. He's unpopular just about everywhere...except here, of course.

Good work, as always, Rick.

Rick Ballard said...

Bernard Coard, Manuel Noriega and Slobodan Milosevic all found out what US President's can do when the mood strikes them. Without Congressional approval, too.

loner said...


That wasn't quite what I meant, but I do like the progression. I'd forgotten Coard's name. Bishop, I remember.

Regardless, it'll be interesting to see if he can work his way out of the tangle he's in during the next year or so.

terrye said...


Bush's approval rating is about 40. Give or take. I know that people like to think that most other presidents were really popular all the time, but none of them were not even Reagan. That kind of rating is not really all that unusual for second terms. Truman's was much worse. Even Reagan and Clinton spent time in the 30's. And Carter saw the 20's.

In fact if the Republicans had not made the mistake of trying to impeach Clinton rather than just censuring him or something I think he would have been a whole lot less popular than he was when he left office. But they made people feel sorry for him.

Whatever else you can say about Bush, he got more votes in 2004 than any president in history. Kind of like Truman, no one is supposed to like him but somehow he wins.

As for Iraq.... well one thing is for sure the Democrats have done their best to make a difficult task more difficult than it had to be. More people died because of them and if we fail over there more people will die in the future, but what the hell they are too busy trying to go after Bush to give a damn.

It will be a cold day in hell when I vote for one again.

loner said...



Doug said...

No! No!
Not Souter Light!
Can't a man have hope?
(Dewine got religion on Roberts after Conservatives kicked his son's ass.)

Luther McLeod said...

I continue to believe, regardless of the polls, that the Repub's will pull out a slim victory on Tuesday night. But who knows?

Rick, great post. But I think your optimism may have met its match, if my prognostication is incorrect.

The executive will have less power, regardless of the constitution. GWB will feel the force of a narrowly elected legislature, not because of their votes, but because of the MSM and its complicent enablers. IOW's those who desire the US to be a failed state. This is a force yet to be fully reckoned with.


Re "It will be a cold day in hell when I vote for one again." I'm with you.

terrye said...


You are such a patient person. I am sorry if I abuse you.

Rick Ballard said...


There is no "regardless of the Constitution". Some of Bubba's "Most Excellent Foreign Adventures" occurred while Lightfoot Lindsay was burying his pointy little teeth in Bubba's butt. Ask Slobodo. The 78 days of bombing began in March '99. Here's a refresher on Bubba's trials and tribulations.

One might also recall what was happening in Vietnam during the Watergate fiasco.

If the Dems get a majority I have no doubt that their attack Yorkies will be snapping and snarling to the cheers of the Mediacrats.

So what? The Executive has been known to straightarm the Legislative before and the DoJ may have plans already in progress to keep at least the Times somewhat preoccupied.

Luther McLeod said...

Well Rick, the world changes. What was possible before may not be possible today.

Yes, the executive can straightarm. But how often has that tactic been used in the past six years? And for what purposes. I think, against prevalent wisdom, that GW has done more in attempting to work with Congress than most past CinC's.

So, will he really wish to strike out on his own and sour the vote for 08? What a game. My heart goes out to him, he is truly riding the horns of the bull. Poised between extinction and exaltation. Not that I think either of those motivate him.

loner said...


You don't. I wouldn't be here if I didn't like the people with whom I often disagree. I told MHA a couple of months ago that I missed flenser and I don't think I agreed with him about much of anything.

I read the rather long thread over at Roger's last night. The Joseph (formerly Samuel) comment gave me pause. Memories of better times for and with him, I suppose.

We move on...or we don't. My last great passion was to see what are now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim make it to the World Series. It happened in 2002 and I will die happy as a result. I was in hell while it was happening because I never really believed that, in the end, they wouldn't find a way to do what they always did...lose. In politics, it's been a long time (1980) since I thought the two parties were going to have any trouble surviving the lot of us and that governance by one was all that preferable to governance by the other. I almost always find myself allied with the party that is out of power.


Luther McLeod said...


Just an aside, but I miss flenser as well. Though he handed me my ass on several occasions, justifiably so. And I was on his side!!

Doug said...

Where did Flenser go?
I miss Bo Belinsky:
" I went from a major league ballplayer to hanging onto a brown bag under the bridge, but I had my moments and I have my memories.
If I had the attitude about life then that I have now, I'd have done a lot of things differently.
But you make your rules and you play by them.
I knew the bills would come due eventually, and I knew I wouldn't be able to cover them.

Doug said...

Hi Doug - A Reminder

Jeanie V.'s Call for Change phone party on Maui is coming up this weekend.

Your current reply is: Not Yet Responded

Name: Rock the House (and Senate) House Party RSVP
Host: Jeanie V., (fellow MoveOn member)
When and Where:
10:00AM Sat.

Host's note:
This is our last chance to call progressive voters and win this election!
R.S.V.P. Can you make it?

Yes, I'll come.

This party won't work.
Is there another?

P.S. For more info, click here. And don't worry, this email was sent through the MoveOn system so your personal contact info is still private.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

terrye said...

I think I ran flenser off. I know I know I can be a real bitch sometimes.

Maybe I should tell him I am sorry.

I miss Buddy too.

Bird Dog said...

One heck of a good post. Thanks.

vnjagvet said...


Great job on the post, and with your usually great historical insight!

My gut tells me that the Republicans might well eke out narrow control in both houses. My intellect tells me that the House will go Dem but the Senate stays Republican.

Here in Georgia, I do not see a Democratic revolution by any means because the economy is pretty good here and there is a strong pro-military majority in the state. Much of the old Democratic establishment (e.g. Zell Miller) is pretty conservative, being especially aggressive on defense issues.

Rick Ballard said...

Georgia may be the site of one of very few Rep pickups for the House. There hasn't been much noise about the Burns/Barrow contest but the little polling that's available shows a tight race. The Taylor/Schuler matchup in NC-08 is the only other seat in south (KY is a border state and the two districts in FL don't exactly fit a 'southern' demographic) that is in contention and I don't see Schuler as a good candidate for the Dem's Progressive caucus should he prevail.