Wednesday, January 03, 2007

MSNBC underestimates prospects for bipartisan Congress

Before the 110th Congress has even met MSNBC and others are already dismissing the chances of bipartisanship in Congress.

I think they underestimate the prospects of members working with each other. Open warfare with the Whitehouse is inevitable. Support for an unpopular lame duck President from Republican members of Congress is not.

In the wake of the disastrous 2006 midsessionals the attention of Republicans is firmly focused on 2008. The chances of regaining either house are slim. The 2002 election was a disaster for the Democrats who were handed a 21 to 12 drubbing. As a result the Republicans have at most two serious chances of picking up a seat in the Senate while the Democrats have up to eight. When the conservative pundits rate the possibility of picking up John Kerry's seat in Massachusetts as being amongst their best chances they are blowing smoke that even the stupidest reader should spot.

Another reason to expect bipartisanship is that the Democrats now control the agenda. Nothing can pass Congress without them. Republicans who engage in trench warfare will return to their district with little or nothing to show for their efforts. Those who play ball get the goodies.

Conversely there is little for the Democrats to gain by engaging in open warfare with other members of Congress. They already have both houses, the less that is heard from the minority in either house the better as far as they are concerned. Oversight is going to be directed squarely at the Whitehouse.

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