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The Year Ahead: Can Democrats Govern?

At noon on Tuesday, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), serving as the Speaker Pro Tempore, called the House to order. The chamber's chaplain, Rev. Daniel Coughlin, offered a brief prayer.

"As this 110th Congress resumes in this Second Session for debate and passage of new bills, we pray to You, the almighty and all-powerful Lord. With prophetic words, we plead that You would rip open the heavens and come down to be with us," he said.

And with that, Democrats began the second year of their new majority with one major question hanging over them: Can they govern?

After the 2006 elections, Republican pollster David Winston argued that the GOP lost the House and Senate for three basic reasons -- Iraq, corruption and Katrina.

Since the first two items are basically self-explanatory, let's take that last part first. Winston's point was not that Republicans lost Congress simply because they -- and more importantly, President Bush -- were perceived to have mishandled the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Rather, Katrina's aftermath combined with the Iraq war and other mishaps to undermine voters' underlying belief in Republican competence -- in the party's basic ability to govern well and get things done. As Winston put it in a column a year ago in Roll Call (subscription required):

"The American people didn't elect Democrats in November because they suddenly took an ideological swing to the left. Voters were unhappy with what they saw as the Republican Party's inability to get things done, whether it was dealing with Hurricane Katrina, gas prices or the Iraq War. So, they took a chance on the Democrats, and now the Democrats must produce."

So by that standard, are Democrats competent? Have they produced?

By any measure, 2007 was a mixed bag for the majority. On the plus side, Democrats passed an increase of the minimum wage, an ethics and lobbying reform package, a student loan bill and an energy measure that boosted mileage standards for cars and trucks and increased funding for alternative energy sources.

Atop the negative side of the ledger is Iraq. Democrats came to power pledging to end, or at least shorten, the American troop commitment and to place more restrictions on the money Congress provided for the war. They have mostly failed on that front, despite repeated votes and dramatic debates on the subject.

In the process, Democrats allowed their end-of-session efforts to boost funding for domestic projects to get wrapped up in the Iraq debate. By holding out until the final hours of the session before caving on Iraq, the majority lost its chance to force Bush to veto -- and Republicans to take tough votes -- on a major spending bill that would have increased spending on a host of popular items like education and health care.

Democrats were also unable to get either most or all of what they wanted on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Children's Health Insurance Program, the Alternative Minimum Tax and stem cell research (though they did at least force a Bush veto on that).

This year, Democrats are coming out of the gate hoping to move quickly to pass an economic stimulus package. Both parties are, for now at least, making soothing noises about doing so on a bipartisan basis. Fast action and agreement on such a plan would help Democrats' productivity right from the start.

But beyond that, Democrats will face the same obstacles in 2008 that they did in 2007 -- a narrow margin in the Senate and a near-constant requirement to get 60 votes against a stubborn GOP minority; a House Republican leadership that has proved adept at forcing difficult symbolic votes on hot-button issues; and a stark divide within their own party about how to proceed, and how hard to push, on Iraq.

Add to that list a traditional hesitancy on the Hill to tackle major issues in a presidential election year and a lame-duck president whose remaining legislative goals are a mystery, and Democrats have their work cut out for them.

Can Democrats overcome Bush's opposition and their own internal divisions to force changes in Iraq this year? Can they coerce or cajole enough Senate Republicans into voting with them on their other legislative priorities? And can Democrats keep the debate focused on their signature domestic issues rather than getting caught in national security fights that usually benefit the GOP?

Three recent national polls put Congress' approval rating between 23 and 26 percent, several points worse than Bush's ratings.

Fortunately for them, Democrats have a very favorable electoral playing field in the Senate, where they have far fewer seats to defend than the GOP does. While the map of competitive House races is more fluid, Democrats have plenty of money and lots of Republican open seats to attack, so no serious election observers have suggested yet that the majority might actually be at stake in 2008.

Barring major new scandals or some other cataclysmic events, Democrats will likely still be in the majority a year from now. But they still have to produce. They have to be competent, or else they could soon find themselves in the same predicament the Republicans faced in 2006.

By Ben Pershing  |  January 17, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Agenda , Dem. Leaders  
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The majority of the bills the dems have passed are to rename post offices, they seem to be good at that. dems seem to not care about the consequences of their agenda, all they care about is power and I pray that the good people of America maintain the ability to kill bad legislation as it is. only when both parties can come togeather to produce good legislation should bills be passed.

Posted by: DWIGHT | January 17, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

The Democratic House has passed a lot of good legislation. Most of it failed because of a record number of filibusters in the Senate. Others have failed because of presidential vetoes. Mr Bush would rather shut down the government than compromise on taxes. He's willing to deny millions of children healthcare unless he gets his way. He also is willing to deny pay increases and support to combat troops unless it's on his terms. It's hard to get things done when we have the worst president in at least a century.

Posted by: Marv Toler | January 17, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Did American democracy develop incurable dents in it that track star Kelly has been barred from participation in track race? True democracy tolerates multiculturalism, multi-racism, yet disparate linguistic tastes. I wonder why US congressmen and high profile politicians don't raise objections to such jaundiced cultural treatment. Poor Kelly!

Posted by: Hameed Shaheen | January 17, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Dwight--I'm an independent, but you get your facts straight--your hypocrisy is pathetic. First of all do you recall that for six years the Republicans in Congress held repeated closed-door session where they locked the doors on Democrats? Do you mean by "parties coming together" conservative and moderate Republicans?

So far as power, do you forget the record numbers of corruption we have seen among Republicans in the last few years--and they've continued to surface even after the 2006 elections? No party in history has had such widespread corruption.

Finally, you do realize that Bush has made a record number of "signing statements" where he basically decides to reject what Congress says, and do what he wants. And you say all the Democrats care about is power?

It is Repugnicans like you who have made me vote for Democrats in the last couple elections.

Posted by: Tim | January 17, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

"Voters were unhappy with what they saw as the Republican Party's inability to get things done."
Not true: Republicans get the WRONG things done. If it destroys the planet and kills brown people, they'll get it done; read the front page any day of the week.

Posted by: Mobedda | January 17, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Neither the Dems or Republicans are fit to govern. Like playground bullies - and a similar mentality - they want only to grandstand and push the opposition around. Name one worthwhile US problem congress has solved in the past 8 years. Border control, Medicare, Education, Real Ethics reform are avoided like the plague while congress renames post offices. Be serious!

Posted by: don448 | January 17, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The Dems done have the power to do very much, if anything, by themselves, unless public opinion forces Repubs to cooperate. Repubs just filibuster and veto.

Posted by: newageblues | January 17, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I changed parties after 30+ years as a Republican and I must say I'm totally disappointed in the Democrats. As long as we have gutless leaders like Pelosi and Reid, no we can't govern. They cave in to Bush every time. For the most part they are career politicians whose main concern is to remain the ruling elite. We have been duped.

Posted by: Connie Niehus | January 17, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

If nothing else, the slim Democratic majority has prevented passage of some (unfortunately, not all) of the self-serving, shortsighted, anti-intellectual, xenophobic, science-denying (and I could go on) bills sponsored by the Greedy Old Plutocrats.

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 17, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the Democrats do not have the votes to overturn vetoes. The Republicans still blindly follow Bush rather than doing what is right for the country. Hopefully, the up coming election will change this so the country can go back to the people instead of Mr. Bush's oil interest.

Posted by: stealers | January 17, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This former Dem wouldn't bet on Pelosi and Reid.

They both quake in their boots at being called "soft" on terrorism.

Leadership requires strength and forthright action.

These two NEVER display EITHER trait.

Posted by: JBE | January 17, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Can Democrats govern? Short answer: No. Too caught up in differences and not similarities.

Posted by: Schratboy | January 17, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree, the Democrats didn't accomplish much in 2007. Probably the biggest achievement was that the Republicans were unable to pass more of their retrograde legislation, especially still more big tax cuts for the rich.

Posted by: Matthew | January 17, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

All the people here whining and crying about how the Republicans in the Senate are blocking the Democrat's agenda by requiring 60 votes to pass seem to have amnesia. I seem to remember that the Democats did the same thing to the Republican agenda when the Republicans controlled the Senate. As a matter of fact the Democrats filibusterd President Bush's judicial nominations which was almost unprecedented. Why shouldn't the Republicans use every parlimentary manuever at their disposal to block an agenda they don't agree with? The Democrats were never shy about using every trick in the book to get their way.

Posted by: Robert | January 17, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"a near-constant requirement to get 60 votes against a stubborn GOP minority"

Isn't it darling how you folks are afraid of the word "filibuster" now that it's the GOP doing it?

Just precious!

Posted by: melior | January 17, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"The American people didn't elect Democrats in November because they suddenly took an ideological swing to the left. Voters were unhappy with what they saw as the Republican Party's inability to get things done, whether it was dealing with Hurricane Katrina, gas prices or the Iraq War. So, they took a chance on the Democrats, and now the Democrats must produce."

Exactly - And as I muttered to the voting machine after entering my mostly Democrat choices in 2006: "If you don't do a better job, we'll vote *your* [backsides] out the next time ..."

Posted by: Darrell | January 17, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really point out that the Democratic side passed numerous bills only to have them obstructed by the Republican lock-steppers or vetoed by Bush even when there were substantial numbers of Republicans opposed to the President. The reason for the low ratings on Congress is because Democrats feel they need to step up the pressure and concentrate on the elections of more Dems to the House and Senate. Six years of rampant uncontrolled abuse cannot be overtrned by the Dems in such a short time. Our new call to arms in my state is becoming "NO MORE REPUBLICAN OBSTRUCTION!!"

Posted by: DJRose | January 17, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

It seems the question is not whether the Democrats can govern but whether they are *allowed* to govern. The Republicans were *allowed* to govern 2000-2006 and messed things up. Now, the Democrats have a shot at it, but only if the Republicans are willing to let them.

Posted by: ctown_woody | January 17, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Getting things done is an impossibility when the minority continues to march in lockstep with Dubya.

The Republicans - and Bush - deserve full condemnation for what hasn't gotten done in this Congress.

Posted by: Sheri | January 17, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Is this called reframing the last eight years? Republicans had control of all branches of government for the first six years, 2000-2006. Since then, they've had almost total support from the Supreme Court (stacked with Republicans), total control of the Executive Branch, and constitute a large minority in the Congress, large enough to stymie Democrat efforts for improvement. So if Republicans win in 2008, do you think they're competent to lead? What evidence do you have to support it?

Posted by: WildaHughes | January 17, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the elections of 2008 will put the Democrats in a position to get bills passed that the republicans cannot make money from. Bush legacy, the worst in the life of the US

Posted by: Fjewers | January 17, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The more the Republicans obstruct, the more they will be swept away in November!!!

The Republican party has plundered the wealth and the rights of America's middle-class like a bunch of doped-up cut-rate street hoods.

Americans are sick and tired of the Republican party's "Sopranos" style government.

We should fire every single Republican for their part in making Bush/Cheney's rape of the constitution possible.

Americans who care about the principles our country was founded on, about the rights and the money of the middle-class, should vote for every single Democrat they can this November!!!!

Its not enough to elect a Democratic President.

This past session of congress proves how important it is to elect as many Democratic Senators and Democratic Representatives as we can.

American can't take any more Republicans.

The middle class doesn't have anything left for them to steal!!!

Posted by: FireRepublicans | January 17, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I am Angolan I tried to read these points of view, and I get confused, what is Bush´s party? anybody can help me?

Posted by: Wayne | January 17, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

The Dems showed no finesse. They pushed 'deadline' in Iraq when they knew they would have to cave if Bush said 'You are not supporting the troops'. They would have been much better served tying funding to a 'war profiteer's tax'. This would put the ball in GW's court. He would have to defend the no-bid contracts. BUT Harry and Nancy didn't. The slim majority in the Senate made the veto threat very effective. It blocked most action. Why didn't the Dems point this out at every turn? The Dem leadership did its utmost to come across as brain dead.

Posted by: TWstroud | January 17, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

NO. The economy can't withstand more taxing of workers to maintain miscreants and layabouts.

Posted by: Alexandria | January 17, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"A liberal is a person too broadminded to take his or her own side in a quarrel."

AKA: Reid & Pelosi...Spineless!!

Posted by: Sickofit | January 17, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

This country urgently needs to abolish the two party rule system most Americans seem to take for granted. We have become an oligarchy ruled by a few powerful players in each party. I am not a Democrat or Republican.

I would like to see proportional government where if 3% of voters choose a libertarian or green party candidate or whoever - that would be the makeup of our congress. We desperately need new ideas but we can't get past the structural inadequacies inherent in our government.

Are there really any new ideas coming from any of the candidates from either party? I think not.

Posted by: grassy123 | January 17, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

At least they have a better menu and the people working in the cafeteria are making more then $6.15 hr.

Posted by: Fokker | January 17, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

They don't Govern, they Legislate.
Don't change the Constitution please, and don't mis-inform, Mr. Ben Pershing.

Posted by: Barkers | January 17, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, ok I know what will make everythng better...more taxes, bigger governmet and since the country's back is breaking under the wieght of Democarp entitlement programs, the answer must be MORE entitlements and increasing the ones we have. Yup the Dems are brilliant and somehow I just do not get the CHANGE thing. Let's just keep going to the same old failed big government solutions.

Posted by: J Travis | January 17, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Katrina is greatly exaggerated by the liberal press. What makes many Americans want to punish President Bush and Republicans is high gas prices and the perceived failure in Iraq. The Iraq adventure is going better but everyone is still mad about high gas prices. It is painful to the pocketbook.

We have seen that the Democrats are worse than ever. Now it seems there is no good choices.

Posted by: Gary Mauer | January 17, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Well we're seen what the Republicans have done in 7 years check the home sales and Stock Market to answer your question. Now if as I've read comments above Americans don't feel Democrats can Goven, then the Saudis will take over. The Bush Administration has borrowed Trillions of dollars for the Saudis if one of the idiot Republicans get in the Saudis will call in their loans with interest. Now McCain has a great plan to put Lieberman as his VP. Yes Lieberman has been a Democrat, Independent and now Republican. His gold is to get the United States to bomb Iran and finally get Isreal the land they settle on in 1947. If things work out Lieberman will replace McCain as President there by allowing Isreal to have control of the United States of America. Yes Lieberman has been working hard for the Jewish people and it's never been in the interest of the American people. Isreal will at last have the means to not only have their own land but convert the USA to be under their control. The Saudis knew how to use Bush as during his young years with his failed companies they just kept giving him money. Now comes the pay off as we see more Middle Eastern people buying up the US and giving loans to get the majority shares. All this became possible because of American greed, corrupt Law Makers and an idiot, drunken President with an evil Satan worshiping VP. The USA is in need of honest Leadership and repair but reading the comments above I'd bet on the Saudis.

Posted by: Jackie Rawlings | January 17, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Common sense would say increasing spending and, at the same time, decreasing taxes is bad policy. If my taxes get reduced, shouldn't I expect my government to reduce its spending? Both parties have helped create a system where irresponsible spending (on things for which the majority of Americans don't want to spend) has led to disasterous deficits.

Posted by: grassy123 | January 17, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The people want out of Iraq, the constatution restored, health care, affordable perscription drugs, stem cell research, jobs. Democrats propose and Hypublicrits obstruct. Yet congress as a whole has low raitings.

Posted by: Rick from Oklahoma | January 17, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Even a lying presidential candidate who promises $2 gas can ignore the war and get elected. To be perfectly certain, they just need to add $10 monthly full-service cable TV for all and they won't even need to buy another ad or make another speech.

Posted by: On the plantation | January 17, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Congress does not govern. Congress is the legislative branch, it legislates.

The executive branch governs.

The author does not know basic U.S. government principles.

Posted by: Joe | January 17, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Can the Democrats govern?

No, because they're wussies. They have backed down on Chimpeachment and stopping the war in Iraq. They have not done what we elected them to do.

Will they be any better on economic issues? I doubt it. They have caved into Chimpy on everything else, why shouldn't they cave in on his latest "stimulus package", which consists of more tax cuts for the rich.

I loathe and despise the Repukes but I am very disappointed in the Democrats. They are acting like they've all been blackmailed by Karla Rove.

Posted by: Tom3 | January 17, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"the liberal press" - Gary Mauer

Pull your head out of the 60's, dude. The press have not been liberal in over a decade.

The press are now CORPORATE. And corporations are conservative.

Ask Kucinich if he thinks the press are liberal. NBC kicked him out of the Nevada debate after inviting him.

NBC is owned by GM, a big defense contractor and nuke builder. GM does not like Kucinich.

Liberal media? Get real, numbnuts.

Posted by: Tom3 | January 17, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

The Republican-led Congress did nothing constructive with regard to Iraq, corruption, and Katrina because they were not interested in doing so.

The Democrat-led Congress has done nothing constructive with regard to these issues largely because they are too disorganized and cowardly to overcome Republican obstructionism.

The minority has made no secret of their plans to obstruct every piece of legislation (including their own) so they can claim that the Democrats have led a "do-nothing" Congress.

Pathetic all around.

Posted by: Stewie | January 17, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

this is a ridiculous premise...the question should be can CONGRESS govern...congress is broken and both parties have played a role in the problem and will need to play a role in the solution

Posted by: fixbone | January 17, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I suppose it doesn't matter that they did not have a veto-proof majority and the Republicans remained loyal to Mr. Bush, blocking every effort they made to create deadlines or conditions for withdrawal from Iraq. Granted, they did not have the courage to withdraw funds, so - given that - they should be held accountable.

Posted by: Larry J | January 17, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I am a parent my kids are grown up and out of the house except one. I make a good living but I do know from experience that if you lose your job and have trouble finding work fast your kids go without health insurance. This issue was very dear to my heart and because the Republicans allowed to to be vetoed they have lost my vote forever. I am a parent and will one day be a grandparent. I didn't mind paying extra taxes for the privileges of seeing kids with health care.

Many will say but the Republicans voted for it why should they be punished because the President vetoed it. It is easy to vote for a bill that you know will be vetoed and know that the ones who oppose it will be protected because they are in a deep red state.

I am not alone in this and I am sure that other will do the same as me and not vote Republican this election and maybe never again.

Posted by: Ant | January 17, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Democratic Congress is akin to the entire political landscape. Politicians are incapable of pursuing and developing the necessary legislation to ensure the public's needs are maintained. Special interest groups control the discourse, and the need to guarantee donations trump good policy.

Having said that, to let the Democratic Party off for their ineffective governing due to a stubborn Republican Minority or hostile Republican President is too facile. Realistically, the problem is that the Democratic Leadership is unable to bridge the divides necessary to bring about compromise- the essential requirement for political progress. Lyndon Johnson was able to enact the beginnings of Civil Rights legislation with a slim majority in the Senate and a Republican President...and a huge contingent of his own party were segregationalists.

Why can't Harry Ried or Nancy Pelosi get something passed? The answer is ineffective leadership.

Posted by: steve | January 17, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Republicans did a horrible job with everything. They stayed in power by screaming that Democrats were unAmerican for criticizing them. Fortunately for this country, enough people finally realized that they were a bunch of corrupt, hypocritical liars who had screwed up the economy and given us a war we didn't need.

They tell us they're for God, then screw the environment and kill millions in Iraq. They tell us they're against gay marriage and then sneak around in bathrooms or raping boys in Congress. They say the Government should stay out of our lives, then in the same breath tell us that the Government should be wiretapping our phones without warrants. They say they'll clean up Government and then go on to produce Jack Abramoff, then sit on the prosecution. The list goes on. Six years of Republican rule was a complete disaster.

By the way, they also stayed in power by getting the DOJ to make false prosecutions against Democrats.

What a bunch of criminals!

Posted by: GeorgeSimian | January 17, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The problem with all the visible politicians today is that they will only address the concerns of those citizens who have or make more money than they do. No one else counts. Thus a two class society is created in which only those in the ruling class enjoy democracy and a representative government. Bridging the gap between the classes, which is where the real partisanship lies, is not possible because those in power simply do not have the will to do it. The real question is not whether the Democrats can govern (they can do it as well as it ever has been done), the question is whether the vast majority of US citizens will ever be given the opportunity to govern. No administration presently conceivable is going to ask this question. Even allowing the question opposes their interests.

Posted by: Kurt Engelhart | January 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

What a dumb question.
Why are you not asking why Bush is trying to negotiate a deal to keep permanent American bases in Iraq & our military there indefinitely? Americans deserve to know what he's doing in our names.

Do you job & focus on matters that inform rather than inflame.

Posted by: jcgrim | January 17, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Since when did Congress start governing??? Ben???

Posted by: Chris | January 17, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

"On the plus side, Democrats passed an increase of the minimum wage, an ethics and lobbying reform package, a student loan bill and an energy measure that boosted mileage standards for cars and trucks and increased funding for alternative energy sources."

I take this 1 year of Dem work over the 6 years of the do-nothing Republican Congress anyday!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding. How could anyone govern will less responsibility than the Republicans. We are ready for a revolution.

Posted by: Ohg Rea Tone | January 17, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

sloppy headline writing - again... a better headline would be - "Can the GOP continue to obstruct the will of the people " ? Let's get a better description of the facts right at the head of the article.

Posted by: smallcage | January 17, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Unless the electors of the USA get behind Hillary Clinton, the Republicans will win the next election.
There is no way the general voting public will vote for Obama as President, he carries too much baggage in personality.

Posted by: 7nomadd4 | January 17, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Divided government works if you want status, and that has frequently been what Americans have wanted.

If you want change, give a single party control of the Presidency AND significant majorities in both Houses of Congress. All great periods of reform and change in American history have involved that, including the 1860's, the "Progressive Era," the 1930's and the 1960's.

Voters who are disappointed with the Democratic Party have no reason to be and will not have any reason to be until and unless they elect a Democratic President AND Congress.

Of course, they can always elect a Republican President and Congress but don't be surprised if 2009 and beyond looks exactly like 2000-2006, only worse.

Posted by: mnjam | January 17, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

coming in late to the tea party but this is typical:

on Jan 17 at 12:43 pm

"...Why shouldn't the Republicans use every parlimentary manuever at their disposal to block an agenda they don't agree with? The Democrats were never shy about using every trick in the book to get their way."

"parlimentary manuever" vs "trick in the book" When the Repubs do it it's a veddy veddy dignified affair. NOT!!

(nice spelling by the way!)

( oh, and kudos to Melior with the response at 12:58 pm! )

Posted by: osmor | January 17, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Two words sum up why Democrats have been unable to effectively deal with so many issues.

Republican Obstructionism

Its that simple. The problem is that so many people rely on media outlets like the Washington Post who inadequately report the details of what is happening on the floor. If they did report resonsibly, the public would have no doubts about why Democrats have been unable to avoid Republican roadblocks, and as a result, the Democrats would be given a much larger majority in 2008. It may still happen in spite of the Washington Posts recent surge to the right.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

This is to Robert and the other Republicans in denial about what this low Congressional approval rating is about. What it is about is a frustration by average Americans with this Congress who has been unable to make the changes they were elected to make. While these voters do not understand how the process works as well as those of us who read these posts. Simply look at the deeper polling and you can see the Republicans are in deep trouble in 2008. Only those so deep in denial that they not only listen but believe Rush Limbaugh are heartened by the Congressional disapproval polls. My guess is when the American people are given the choice of giving Congress a President they can work with or going back to the 6 years leading up to the Congressional change in the 06 we will see a Democrat in the White House.

Posted by: Brad | January 17, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Keep sipping the kool-aid Tom3

Posted by: Fokker | January 17, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

We certainly know that the Republicans cannot govern. These last 3 Republican presidents have proven that. I can find no republican that I trust, respect or admire--they are all intellectually and morally bankrupt. Back in the early 1990s, there were a few "good" republicans left. No more.

Now Robert, F*** off! You probably understand that the democrats in congress do not have the number to override a presidential veto, which is all Bush seems willing or able to do at this point. No one believes Bush anymore. The republicans in congress circle the wagons to protect Bush while the country circles the drain. It is hardly whining to point out to you why the democrats can't end the war(s) or impeach Bush and Cheney.

Over the past 6 to 8 presidential elections, I can only recall one requiring _major_ changes of direction for the country--the 2008 election. In all others, I thought only minor tweaks were called for. Major changes were often promised, but rarely delivered. This is good, Americans are deathly afraid of change. And the U.S. is ungovernable anyway. Of all the presidential candidates, only one that I know of says that he will pull _all_ soldiers out of Iraq within a year, John Edwards. The best we can hope for is a democratic president doing the few right things and an electorate that punishes the Republican party for the past 7 years of criminal behavior. If it can be done, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice,...(the list goes on) should be prosecuted and jailed until the day they die. I hear Gitmo is lovely most of the year. Since they are all traitors, perhaps the death penalty, which I normally strongly oppose, should be applied to the entire group--skip the trials. They've shown the Afghans and Iraqis no mercy and they should receive no mercy. You bet I'm angry. Perhaps worst of all, I've now completely lost faith in the American people to do the right thing--with Bush and the republican party, we got the government we deserved and now we are paying for it. Endless war, financial devastation... It's not just incompetence, it's criminal.

Posted by: maddog56 | January 18, 2008 2:46 AM | Report abuse

For anyone who cares to see, the last embarrassing session exposed the Democratic leadership as hypocritical, hyper-partisan opportunists.

There was more bumbling, inadvertent comedy than anything that could be called an accomplishment.

And that was in a NON- election year !

The late-night comedians will have a BALL this session.

Posted by: gitarre | January 18, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

As long as devastated communities continue to exist in the Gulf South, I won't trust either party. MY government has proven itself incompetent and uncaring to American suffering. Why should I trust any of them?

Posted by: doctorj | January 18, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

This article completely ignores the role Republicans have played in blocking legislation. In the Senate the rules are such that the Repubs can bottle up any legislation they choose. They have racked up new records in the use of the threatened filibuster.

Yes, the Dems need to MAKE them filibuster, but one should not forget who is stopping things from getting to the floor for a vote.

Nice progaganda though...

Posted by: Alex | January 18, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Dems can indeed govern. Its been so long since the chimp stole the whitehouse that most folks have forgotten what "governing" is. Congress has done a great job over the last year, but Bush has swung the veto axe at many of their efforts include (twice?) killing full funding of health insurance for poor children.

Worst president ever!

Posted by: Donny | January 18, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone care that these political parties are basically the Crips (blue democrats) versus the Bloods (red repulicans). These Political parties (gangs) are gangs that do nothing but fight each other philisophically but do nothing to help the American people. Neither is fit to govern much less act like adults (who by the way are too old to act like kids in a gang)

Posted by: Scrappy | January 18, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Democrats can govern very well, thank you, when the Republicans aren't pulling every trick in the book to prevent them from doing so.

The Republican party has turned into "The Borg". They all vote in lockstep. They act like a single giant political organism.

They cannot be reasoned with.

Once they are in power nothing can change what they do.

The only way to deal with the Republicans is to defeat them in elections and then out-vote them in congress.

Its also critical never to lower your guard.

Look what happened to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats want to save America and the World.

Republicans want to kill.

Democrats are like cute litle babies. Happy, full of life, hope, and optimism, especially for a better future, and eager to work with everyone to make that happen.

Republicans are Velocoraptors.
Hungry, Hungry, Hungry Velocoraptors.

Guess who wins that confrontation?

Democrats have to accept the fact that the Republicans have completely different priorities, values, and a way of looking at the world that may strike us as savage, cruel, or inhuman, but that they prize.

Democrats need both strong majorities and a total attitude transplant with respect to dealing with the Republicans.

Paul Krugman is right.

Liberals need to be proud of who they are.
Liberals need to learn how to fight for their beliefs and their rights.
Liberals need to be willing and able to stand up and fight for their rights when they need to.

Otherwise, 99.5% of the people in America will keep having their rights trampled, and their money stolen, by the Republican party, and the upper 0.5%.

Posted by: FormerRepublican | January 18, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Compared to the Incompetents that are the Republicans?


Posted by: Will in Seattle | January 18, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

hi jcgrim:

That the U.S. _will_ have permanent military bases in both Afghanistan and Iraq is a done deal. If al Maliki and Karzai want to stay alive they will fully cooperate, otherwise they will end up like any other leader (?) who did not do America's bidding (Saddam, Noriega,...). Either way, the U.S. is these to stay militarily. And this is just the beginning of our takeover of that part of the world. When will our allies get a clue about America's manifest destiny, as envisioned by the neo-conservatives.

Posted by: maddog56 | January 18, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I just hope and pray that the dem's. Do take their stand, and win this election. we've had enough lies,broken promises and deciet. from the rep's. As i see it how can it get any worse. Bush has made such a mess of our country, and put so many american's in poverty, I really don't know how we can pull out of this mess. But the best thing we can do is stand together, for what we believe in.

Posted by: jean_ohio usa | January 18, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

The degree of ill-founded comment, absurd rage against the GOP and total ignorance of the normal procedures in government shown by practically all the previous commentators makes me wonder. What is really the point of all this litany of insults against the President and Vice-President? Do you forget (conveniently) that all major decisions in 2000-2006 have been seconded by the Democrat Party? Now, suddenly, this party, past collaborator in mischief, is going to be the savior of the Nation? A possible explanation for this dilemma is advanced by one of the previous bloggers, who describes himself as part of the "unhinged left" would be difficult to find a more appropriate term for their arguments!

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