Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

November 5th

Let us imagine that the election results in two weeks look similar to what they do today. For the oddly superstitious atheists on this blog, please be advised that this thought experiment isn't going to "jinx" anything. Let us imagine that Obama is President, Biden is Vice President, the Democrats have at least 57 Senate seats and about a larger margin in the House (say 245-190). Who will control the legislative agenda? How will priorities be made? Will Pelosi, Reid, and Obama sit down and make a 100-day plan like Pelosi did (by herself) in 2006? Simple deference to Barack Obama'a priorities is highly unlikely. Note how much harder that is now that the plan is likely to, um, succeed. Just like Gingrich's "Contract With America" in 1994 that was nicely organized, but required no participation from other branches of government and had no chance of passing intact anyway. I suspect you will see very strong internal politicking. And people like HRC and Pelosi, who owe nothing to Obama, will not be eager to follow his lead. I hope they can all meet together and hash out a program. But I am worried. And the failure to put together a coherent program, coupled with continued economic malaise, could cause a GOP resurgence in 2010 and doom any other progress. In other words, if the Democrats win on 11/4, the clock starts ticking on 11/5.

This is why a massive landslide for Obama is so important, if he can pull it off. And this is why he is working to get states like West Virginia. If he comes in there with a big mandate, he will have much more leverage within his own party. He must be able to say to Reid and Pelosi the following: I brought you this election.

Note that Obama's skill and desire to "work across the aisle" becomes almost meaningless on November 5th if the Dem majorities are so big. All you need is a handful of GOP senators to block a filibuster, and you can ignore the House altogether. A big mandate also will cow those few "moderate" GOP senators. Remember, you get Collins, Snowe, and Specter at least. This is also why it was brilliant for Obama to pick Joe Biden as VP, a man who knows the Senate almost as well as anyone alive. The real negotiations after November 5th will be intra-party, not across party lines. Party loyalty will also be crucial. Democrats will have to choose, in the Senate, whether and how much to punish Lieberman. It may be necessary to crush him just to prove to other Democrats in the Senate how they will be treated if they sell out too. But playing that game with Senators can be dicey too. I'm still not sure which way to go on this. Losing Lieberman's vote could still hurt the party.

I am reminded of the apocryphal story of Democrat Sam Rayburn, House Speaker for very long time in mid-20th century. Supposedly said in advice to some freshmen House members, "remember who the enemy is." The response was, "The Republicans?" He said, "No, the Senate."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"For the oddly superstitious atheists on this blog"

As opposed to the oddly religious on this blog? The irrational believers in the adult santa claus?

USwest said...

The New Yorker just ran an article on the Biden effect. It points out that historically, VPs who came from the senate found themselves less able to influence colleagues once in the White House. And they pointed out that the most effective VPs have been those who took on a few tasks as possible and who served as advisors and who had influence in that regard. That is all Biden asked Obama for. He didn't want projects. And the example he is looking at is Hubert Humphery. Both Johnson and Quail found that their fellow senators were far more likely to vote their self interests than based on old senate relationships.

And again, I believe that I have read in several places that Pelosi, Reed, and Obama have been working closely together on a 100 day agenda. The are all aware of what is at stake. So I am not too worried.

Raised By Republicans said...

I'd be just as concerned about Pelosi, Ried and Obama making a mad run to the left. The should recognize that they will have won this election (and the election in 2006) because the Republicans abandoned the center. Enacting the entirety of the Liberal Democrats' wish list will only make McCain's silly charges of "socialism" look prescient. They should practice self restraint and prove that the Democrats are the natural party of government for the next generation!

The Law Talking Guy said...

There's nothing odd about a religious person being superstitious. It is funny when an atheist who disclaims the existence of the supernatural is superstitious.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Actually, an atheist need not deny the existence of the supernatural in general--just the existence of gods. People across all continents and cultures believed in spirits, fate, and luck long before anyone believed in gods. Of course, if you insist on equating God with superstition, I won't fight you on it :-)

USWest said...

I don't think, RBR, that Obama will go too far left. He's a good politician and he knows better. Also, Pelosi has made clear that the new agenda will focus on environment, energy, economics, war. I think she knows the count in her House and I am pretty sure Reid isn't going to run to the far left either.

USwest said...

That isn't to say that they won't purposely ask for a little more "left" of of center knowing that they will have to negotiate toward the middle.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr.S - are you saying you believe in spirits, fate, and luck? Somehow, I doubt that.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Pelosi and Reid may not be able to contain the more radical elements of the party. This could lead to deadlock, particularly because too many left-liberals make the best the enemy of the good, and will vote down a very good plan because it isn't perfect. That happens too often. I'm just kvetching.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I never said anything about my personal beliefs.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think LTG makes a good point about splits within the party. As the Democratic caucus gets bigger it also gets more ideologically diverse. Democrats like Dennis Kucinich or Barbara Lee will not have much in common with new Democrats that have recently won traditionally Republican seats in places like Montana, Colorado or whatever.

That said, if Obama can present himself as a moderate who blocked some ridiculous move by the left (like Smoot-Hawley II), he'll benefit.