In his press conference Wednesday, President signaled he'll move left to work with the Democrats. No surprise there. Clinton did the same. It shows something I keep pointing out, people don't believe: that Congress is the center of power in the federal government.
While things can change in many ways, this doesn't bode well -- and it further discredits all my friends who argued so passionately, back in 2000, that Bush was really a conservative.
So what will this mean? Well, Bush said Wednesday he'd support a minimum-wage hike; again, no surprise, his dad did the same. He also said something vague about entitlements. That could mean a lot of things, none of them good.
The big question will be what the GOP in Congress does now.
I tend to think they will feel more free to part company with Bush than they did with Reagan, in his last two years. After all, they hope to be around after the next election, and many of them are now, in some ways, more endangered, than before: they now will be put on the defensive by Democrats trying to make them cast votes they don't want to, and they now lack the argument, they could make before Tuesday: "I'm part of the majority, and that's good for my district/state." In the House, the GOP will not, now, be able to force the votes on issues that work for them.
On the other hand, I'll be very interested to see the ways the Democrats themselves force some useful votes. Will they have any abortion-related votes? They won't, of course, allow any prolife legislation to reach the House floor, although it's just possible to get something marginable to the floor -- hence, why do it? My guess is the vote will be on tax-funding of abortions. It seems likely to me the present policy will stay in place; the Democrats know the status quo is safest for them, and tax-funding of abortion isn't good for them -- and, they'd probably lose on that in both houses (I mean in the new Congress).
The GOP will be well able to force votes in the Senate, if they want to. Watch for someone like Tom Coburn and maybe some others to step forward now and become great advocates for various conservative-mobilizing issues. Coburn, in particular, has already hoisted the colors.
The House GOP will have a much harder time, but that doesn't mean they won't still get issues because of what the Democrats do. But they may have to work very hard to highlight the issues they need to.
It occurs to me that while the GOP could take back the Senate in two years, the House may take a little longer. This will scare some, but it may be the best bet for the GOP to take back both houses would be after two years of another Democratic president; by the same token, if the next president is Republican, we may have a Democratic Congress for awhile -- and that combination is the second-worst outcome (the worst is Democrats controlling everything).
This may seem less optimistic than my last post. My point then was to throw cold water on the fevered predictions of disaster. I still think that's true. These election results, by themselves, don't mean all that much bad policy over and above what we've had already.
Rich Leonardi, commenting on my last post, wondered darkly about what this election bodes for the wider world crisis. While I have no idea, never underestimate the swiftness with which politicians will transform themselves into whatever they have to. I.e., if the Democrats ended up being ultra-hawks, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. Why would they do that? If they see the same threat that Bush -- and more importantly -- the American people -- might well see in the near future.