I’ve been watching the election results, and it’s been interesting. Not like I expected. Not that I didn’t expect the Democrats to take the House. Every analyst asked has said this would happen. What surprised me is that many of the newly elected Democrats are centrists. The term “blue dog Democrats” has started to be used. This will create an interesting dynamic, and an opportunity for President Bush.
The interesting dynamic this creates is that the Democratic leadership in the House has far left leanings. The senior leadership and the new “blue dogs” will likely agree on social policy, and they’ll agree that Bush needs to be challenged on his policies in the War on Terror, but where they will disagree is how to handle the Bush Administration. Like I said before, the far left leadership in the House, I predict, will not be able to help itself, and will try to hamstring Bush, and do as much damage as they can, seeing Bush and his anti-terror policies as the enemy, not the jihadists out to kill Americans. Since they have seniority and will be placed in leadership positions in the House, as a result of the election of these “blue dogs” I might add, they will have the authority to initiate actions using the powers of the House. Bush, however, may find some unlikely allies in these new Democratic arrivals when it comes to these matters.
It seems to me this was not an anti-war vote, much as the far left likes to see it. It was a vote saying that the Bush Administration’s terror war strategy is not satisfactory, at least in how it’s been communicated to the American people, and that it needs to change. The goal is victory, not defeat. That’s making a bold prediction on my part, and I may end up being proved wrong. Perhaps it just represents my hopes. I got to thinking about this on election night. The problem Bush had with a Republican majority is he never had enough of a majority to get some things he wanted to accomplish done, because the Democrats would put up a stiff fight, put up procedural blockades, and demagogue issues to the public, because what Bush wanted was seen as him ramming through a Republican agenda. It’ll be harder for the Democrats now to oppose Democrats in their own ranks who agree with Bush on some legislative issues.
Where Bush will probably run into more resistance is when the Patriot Act comes up for renewal. Privacy and civil liberties are a big issue for Democrats, probably even for “blue dogs”, and these issues may be too great for them to vote with Bush on. I doubt they’ll approve of wiretaps on a “trust me” basis with the White House, and they may go along with the idea that the War on Terror is really just a law enforcement matter. Personally I see this as a minus. I think the wiretapping that’s been done is a good intelligence gathering tool, and preventing terrorism is all about intelligence. I think having a good offensive strategy is critical as well.
What may die once and for all is Bush’s strategy of “draining the swamps” in the Middle East. The Democratic Party has said over and over again that the only thing the military should be doing is going after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nevermind that Al Qaeda is spread all over the world, and one of the places where we’re fighting it right now is in Iraq.
An interesting take on the election I heard last night was that one issue where Bush will likely find common ground with the new Democratic majority is on immigration. Bush now can go back on his commitment to build that new fence along the border with Mexico, if he wants. And he can marginalize the Minutemen as a political force even more than he has. Bush may get the immigration policy he wanted to begin with, with a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. The problem is I doubt he or the Democrats will move forward on border security.
Something we could see happen is the far left constituency in the Democratic Party become exuberant at their wins last night, but over time see their hopes of finally being able to show some leadership on their radical agenda, which they have long wanted to do, dashed because most of the Democrats, along with the remaining Republicans in congress, will not go along with it. Contrary to what I said before, the House Judiciary Committee may hold impeachment hearings, but I doubt it’s going to go beyond that. Many of the Democrats elected last night will soon be classified as “DINOs” (Democrats In Name Only) by the far left. You watch.
So, in short, what I think we’ll see, is that the new Democrats are the real power brokers in the House, not the House leadership, at least while a Republican is in the White House. They’ll be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other Democrats when their common interests are served, but they will also be able to oppose the House leadership, joining with Republicans, if they see something going on they really don’t like. I’m not suggesting a cake walk for the new reps. You can be sure the far left leadership will twist their arms to vote with them from time to time.
Who created tonight’s victories for the Democrats? According to what I’ve been hearing on the news, Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic House member from Illinois, and a former Clinton Administration official, was the architect. Back in 2000, the far left began its ascent in the Democratic Party. They’ve been in charge of the party apparatus since then, and it led them to ruin electorally. They tended to keep former Clinton officials at arm’s length. They wanted nothing to do with Clinton’s moderate liberalism and strategy of triangulation. Now they are going to have to confront the resurrection of DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) centrism, of which former President Clinton, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman have been a part. Maybe now the Democratic Party will realize that even though Clinton lost some credibility personally to scandal, his agenda and ideology have not.
Incidentally, Sen. Lieberman, running as an independent in Connecticut won handily over his Democratic rival, Ned Lamont. Congratulations to Lieberman. It’s nice to see the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party get trounced.
This is just a guess, but my sense is that the moderates have moved to the Democratic Party. It used to be said during Bush’s presidency that the moderates had left the Democratic Party and were voting Republican. Now it seems the opposite has happened.