Thursday, December 13, 2007


Froomkin is doing a column today about the difficulties of Congress. Republican obstruction tactics and Bush's vetos have become chronic and have worked, while Democrats continue to try to get along. This particular quote from Steny Hoyer summarizes the situation:

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters that Democrats have done all they can. 'We were not elected to do what the president tells us to do,' Hoyer said. But acknowledging political realities, he added: 'If he vetoes and we can't override the veto, then we have to go in some other direction.'

"In every case, Bush's veto powers or senators' filibuster powers have forced Democrats to retreat. . . .
The likes of Hoyer simply STILL don't get the realities of politics today.

First off. Congresspeople assume that if they are elected, the only thing they are supposed to do is pass legislation. If they pass lots of legislation they've been "successful". That is a fallacy. In the current session of Congress no one with any knowledge of politics had any large expectation that major legislation would be passed. The majority is simply too thin and the pugilism of Republicans too profound. My expectation was that this session would be marked by an opportunity to stop Bush, investigate, and use the bully pulpit.

Which brings me to the second and more key issue. Democrats have been awful at not using the media. If the situation were reversed and Democrats were obstructing, do you honestly believe that the Republicans would be sitting back and trying to "find a way" to get along? Hell no. Anyone remember the hub hub over the "nuculur option" and Democratic obstructionism during Bush's first term? They'd be all over the media spewing froth about the obstructionist Democracts, fireballing at every opportunity the opposition.

And the media would be eating it up with a spoon. And it would be working to sway the electorate.

Congressional Dems, by-in-large, have done a fair job stopping Bush and a good job investigating. But they've been awful and timid at using the Republican obstructionism as a political lever to either force Republicans to capitualte or to make the case to the American voting public. Another opportunity lost and even more reason to elect more and better democrats. I'm sorry that political discourse comes down to getting media attention via spectacular media trash. But you live in the world you're given, not the one you want.

Update: This says it all.

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