Thursday, November 09, 2006

Post-Election: Bush moves left

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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the analysis Fr. Fox always interesting.

Terry said...

He also said something vague about entitlements.

For the 12 million new Americans we're about to get as the first bi-partisan show of good faith, that's going to be pretty expensive.

Chucko said...

Yep... do the math...

12 million new Americans
Increased social entitlements
Increased minimum wage

It's been a great run!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Don't get too discouraged, as I said Wednesday.

Just because the Democrats have a majority in both houses doesn't mean they get what they want -- not even if Bush goes along.

There are lots and lots of ways to influence the outcome, and stop things.

Realize, the next couple of months, till the new Congress actually takes office, will be a terrible cross to bear, because the media will gush all over them, you'll hear all manner of scary predictions, from both sides, and you'll even see some of it -- in the next year -- start to happen.

But then . . . the machinery of our wonderful system will start to turn, and the Democrats will start to face difficulty after difficulty. The agenda will be whittled down.

Am I saying they won't get anything? Nothing bad will happen? Not at all.

I'm saying, relax, wait and see. And don't think the battle is over. It's only just begun.

Sir Galen of Bristol said...

I wonder if what happened to the GOP mightn't happen to the Dems. The GOP went down, I believe because too many conservatives didn't vote, which was because the GOP hadn't been conservative enough.

But if the Dems are moving right, perhaps in 2 or 4 years, the liberal base will be depressed because their reps are still permitting babies to reach term, and haven't passed a Constitutional gay marriage amendment, and Dick Cheney can still legally carry a shotgun (that is, he's not in jail).

Anonymous said...

In the end, as we all stand before the One High Almight Triune God, with Jesus Christ as Judge, there will be no distinction between the eartly kings and beggars, democrats and republicans,etc. All (even the demons) will kneel at the name of Jesus our Lord. I look upon the present temporal affairs in light of this great eternal truth, and echo St. John's great exhortation at the end of Revelations: "Come Lord Jesus!" Therein is our real hope.
As to republicans vs. democrats, I can only echo what my father-in- law said to me 20 years ago as I tried to convince him that the republicans had the answers to many of our contries woes. He was 75 at the time, worked 50 years for a chemical company in a blue collar position. After his wife died at the age of 49, he raised all seven children on his own. After pausing to gain my breath about my next convincing argument, he simply said, "Charlie, they're all crooks." Even though he said it quietly, it was like a flash of lightning, with the bolt of thunder following. This statement by my father-in-law was very much akin to what is said in the Gospels about our Lord not trusting himself to men because "he knew their hearts."
I do not place much trust or hope in my fellow man to think that, as a republican or democtrat, he's going to make things right in a world that is at battle between "powers and principalities." It really will require all of us to be united as God's children in this great war against Satan. There's the enemy! He not only wants to destroy our eternal souls, but Fr. Fox's, too. Which political party has the capacity to do that?
Peace to all

Anonymous said...

I hope the very first thing the Democrats in the Senate do is abolish the "it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture, end debate and basically get anything done around here" rule. Indeed, I would love to see the Republican Minority Leader make the proposal. Elections have consequences -- or at least they should -- and its long past time to end this archaic, silly practice.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I love the filibuster.

Washington is filled with monuments -- but the one monument that Washington is lacking, is one dedicated to the Filibuster, the bulwark of liberty.

Anonymous said...

For this we attend the seminary?

Way too much time on his hands.

Steve said...

Fr. Fox:

Why do you think the filibuster is a good thing?

I hate the filibuster. It is completely antithetical to the idea of democracy. After a reasonable amount of discussion and debate, it is essential for our elected officials to vote "yes" or "no," not to obstruct the proper working of the Executive Branch.

The most blatant and indefensible use of the filibuster is to block a vote on a presidential nominee. The Constitution gives the Senate the duty to give the President "advice and consent" regarding nominations. Using a filibuster rather than taking a vote is a clear violation of that duty. If the President nominates a person that some Senators do not think should be confirmed, then those Senators should simply vote "no" when the nomination comes up for a vote. Blocking a vote by using a filibuster effectively keeps portions of our Government from working like they should, because the posts for which the President has nominated people to fill remain unfilled. That is no way to run a country.

I have written to my Senators asking them not to use filibusters on presidential nominees. The Senators have written back to me trying (unsuccessfully) to justify the use of the filibuster, but their justifications rang hollow.

So what is your view, Father?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous (last):

If you don't like what I have to say, why don't you simply say so, instead of this passive-aggressive stuff?


Were I to agree the filibuster is "antithetical" to democracy wouldn't make me like it less. Democracy is overrated. A majority doesn't make something right; and the majority shouldn't always prevail; and if it does, it's perfectly reasonable -- and prudent -- that it not be able to do so immediately.

A filibuster is no more antithetical to democracy than the Senate itself -- which it is; each state gets equal representation, despite huge desparities. And that was by design.

But in any case, the simple fact is, a filibuster cannot be sustained against the wishes of the people, because they can pressure their Senators to stop filibustering. All successful filibusters work precisely because, while they oppose the majority of the Senate, they aren't opposed by the majority of the people. After all, the longer a filibuster goes on, the more the nation's attention is drawn to it; if the filibuster is unpopular, it will eventually fizzle; or those who launched it pay a political price . . .

Which is what happened on the judges, by the way.

Meanwhile, the filibuster has been used repeatedly in our history to slow down lots of bad bills and keep them from being passed. Legislation the people want eventually overcomes the filibuster.

Anonymous said...

I doubt the Republicans in the Senate will be able to force anything. The Democratic majority will increase because a Repuplican senator from Wyoming just announced that he has late stage leukemia. Moreover, the governor of Wyoming is a Democrat who will surely choose a Democrat as a replacement for the departing senator. Furthermore, the Democrats in Congress have regained subpoena power and now witnesses will have to be sworn in so that they can be criminally liable when they lie to Congress.

As for Conservatism in general, the libertarians are in revolt against the neocons and the social conservatives.

After 6 years of ruinous spending by a fascist president (What else can you call a president who does away with habeas corpus, spends money none of us have, and allies himself with corporate interest to the detriment of the citizenry?), I thing the libertarian cause will become more popular and may even attract former liberals to it.

This, of course, will help the Republican party in the long run, but it will also change the Republican party.