Friday, December 14, 2007

Governing Ugly

What the Democrats failed to learn from their years in the minority in the House and Senate was how to tie the hands of the majority.

Republicans chortle as they block Democratic initiatives — and accuse the majority of being unable to govern. Rank-and-filers are furious that their leaders can’t end the Iraq war. President Bush sits back and vetoes at will.


In an ideal world, Democrats would pass a lot of legislation that Bush would either have to sign or veto. The president would have to take responsibility for his choices. The House has passed many bills, but the Republican minority has enormous power in the Senate to keep the legislation from getting to the president’s desk. This creates the impression that action is being stalled through some vague and nefarious congressional “process.”


If Democrats don’t make the 2008 election about the Do-Nothing Republicans, the GOP has its own ideas about whom to hold responsible for Washington’s paralysis. And if House and Senate Democrats waste their time attacking each other, they will deserve any blame they get next fall.

You’ve got to give the GOP credit for raising their ability to play the bully/victim act to a high art: it’s worked with everything from the war funding to the FISA bill, and they’ve Charlie Browned the Democrats at every turn. It may be the only way to get their way, but I can’t help but think they’ve lost the point of the whole thing: to do the peoples’ business like passing realistic budgets, getting health care to the children that need it, and focusing on the real priorities. Scoring points on “Hardball” is not one of them.