Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 14, 2010

LAME DUCKS.... Depending on how the rest of the year's schedule comes together, it's possible that there will be a lame-duck legislative session on Capitol Hill after the midterm elections. Republicans are starting to throw a fit about the possibility.

Their nightmare scenario: A weakened Democratic majority might make one final stab at forcing through massive spending bills, passing a wildly controversial cap-and-trade package and generally enshrining a liberal agenda -- after it has lost elections nationwide.

Indeed, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a statement to POLITICO, called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to "guarantee -- right now -- that they will not bring members back for a 'sour grapes' session after the election."

Boehner added, "People have a right to know that Congress will respect their will, whatever it is."

There are a couple of angles to consider here. First, for Boehner to talk about Congress respecting the will of voters seems oddly amusing. In 2008, Democratic candidates had a massive electoral victory -- Barack Obama's 52.8% of the popular vote was the highest of any candidate in either party in 20 years, and congressional Democrats won the biggest majority either party has seen in a generation. The result was the first modern example of an entire political party -- John Boehner's political party -- declaring that elections don't have consequences, and that Congress need not respect voters' will.

Second, if Boehner wants to talk about abusing lame-duck legislative sessions, we can have that conversation. In 1998, most voters were unimpressed, to put it mildly, with the Republican crusade against Bill Clinton. In the midterms, Americans sent a pretty clear message -- in a historical rarity, the party that controlled the White House gained congressional seats in the sixth year of a presidency. It was a stinging rebuke of the GOP and its excesses.

House Republicans responded by impeaching the president anyway -- relying on a lame-duck session to ram impeachment through the chamber quickly, before newly-elected lawmakers could take office.

Did Boehner say at the time that Congress should respect voters' will, "whatever it is"? Was he worried about it looking like "a 'sour grapes' session"? No, he voted instead to impeach the president in the lame-duck session.

In other words, spare America the lecture, Boehner.

Steve Benen 1:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Republicans throwing a fit over something the Democrats might do in four months? Wow, haven't seen that before.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on July 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. John Boehner is an intellectually dishonest pure partisan hack. Who'd a thunk it?

Posted by: jvwalt on July 14, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that's the winning ticket: Let's wait until we're out of power before we enact the legislation that probably would have gotten us reelected.

Takes some real brilliance to come up with that strategy. Hopefully, no Dems are thinking along those lines.

Posted by: bdop4 on July 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

bdop4@1.53p - exactly WHAT legislation do you want them to pass that they haven't already passed in order to be worthy of reelection? This congress and this president have already done more than any congress and president since LBJ.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on July 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm tired of hearing about this "certainty" that Dems are going to lose their majority due to the mid-terms. Not only are the Republicans spouting this b.s., but so is the so-called Left. If anything is going to discourage registered Democrats from voting, it's this completely defeatist attitude: "Well, we're going to lose anyway; why bother voting?" Why bother? To keep the crazies out, that's why. I've not been overwhelmed by the success of a Democrat majority in both the House and Senate, but considering the people that would be heading up a variety of the committees if the Republicans actually gained a majority in either House will get me to the polling booth!

Posted by: winddancer on July 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Not only are the Republicans spouting this b.s., but so is the so-called Left.

Two groups that are temperamentally suited for, and really only happy in, opposition.

Which position they both can't occupy at the same time.

Which is why some of our present politics is so weird.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 14, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't recall this sensitivity in Nov/Dec 1998, when the Repubs voted on impeachment of Clinton. I believe there were lots of lame ducks who voted for impeachment, and perhaps the votes wouldn't have been there if they had held off on voting until the new Congress was in.

Posted by: artsmith on July 14, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK
This congress and this president have already done more than any congress and president since LBJ.

Um. A health care bill that is a huge wet kiss to the insurance and pharma industries. A too weak stimulus. A watered down FinReg bill. Just to name a few.

And there's always ignoring Bush's war crimes, letting Dawn Johnsen twist in the wind, and a few others.

They're not worthy of reelection to dog catcher.

Posted by: msmolly on July 14, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Clueless O-bots like phoebes-in-santa fe present me with a dilemma. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on July 14, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Phoebe,

Passing some legislation that structurally changes how government operates would likely fire up the base and get them to the polls in November.

Given that HCR and the stimulus are water under the bridge at this point, enacting a financial regulatory bill that actually prohibits the destructive behavior by financial institutions (Glass-Steagall, anyone) would be change I could believe in.

Will the GOP scream bloody murder? Absolutely, along with some blue dogs, I suppose.

Will the bill pass? Probably not. But sometimes taking a stand on what's right gives you an election issue to campaign on.

Ever since 1/20/09, the GOP has been begging for a culture war. Conditions were never riper and I think it's a winner if Dems have the guts to go all in.

But I know, idealism is SO passe these days. I guess I'm old fashioned that way.

Better to negoatiate against yourself in the hopes the opposition won't get mad at you.

Posted by: bdop4 on July 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I am re-posting this because I think it lays out clearly the truth and reality of what we are facing in the coming months. If Congress, in its dysfunctional wisdom, does not recognize the larger consequences of their policies, then we are, indeed, heading for an even worse future. As I have stated at other times, in other places, nature does not care how we vote or how much money we have to throw at a problem. The problem cannot be solved at the level of consciousness that created it. We must move to a broader perspective. All the complaining about the media, and I have been one of those doing the complaining, will not change their conversation until something so radical happens that they are forced to change. So, here is what I posted earlier today:

Perhaps the tax cuts are supposed to be used to create jobs, correct? So, all those millions and billions of dollars that the corporations don't have to pay in taxes they will, instead, pay to new employees and for raises to existing employees. In order to create new jobs, there has to be an increase in production of products and/or creation of new services to sell to customers. The customer has to have need of the products and services offered and the means to pay for them. As long as people are in a position to purchase these products and services, and there is sufficient tax revenue from the taxpayers to support the essential public services(healthcare, infrastructure, fire and police services, social services, etc), the tax cuts to the wealthy/corporations make sense. If the tax cuts don't "trickle down" then they don't make sense.

I trust that at some time rational minds will prevail and the concern for all of humanity and the natural world will be of greatest concern. As long as we continue to live in a world of greed and selfishness, we will continue on this path of destruction we have chosen. I will again offer the link I offered above, so all may listen to some of the great visionaries and realists of our time.

Join the Gulf Sacred
Action

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on July 14, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bdop4: "Will the bill pass? Probably not. But sometimes taking a stand on what's right gives you an election issue to campaign on."

I read somewhere that Obama simply hates to lose
on a bill. So any win, no matter how small, is preferable to your solution.

Not sure if it is true, but it seems to have some explanatory power. How many bills that Obama has pushed have lost?
The only one I know about is the 'closing Guantanamo' funding, possibly the KSM trial in NYC, but I think that was a surrender before defeat.

Posted by: catclub on July 14, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The 1998 analogy is imperfect because Republicans continued to control the next Congress.

However, the current Congress was elected in 2008 to serve through 2010. That gives them through November & December to carry out the mandate of the previous election. If & when there are enough members to choose new leadership, then the agenda can change.

Posted by: Grumpy on July 14, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

John Boehner is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 14, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

The Tan Boner is the lowest form of life on the planet!

Posted by: Sam Simple on July 14, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Will you participate?
Join the Gulf Sacred
Action

I may come off as crazy, but I don't really care what some people think. We are facing a global call to action. It is not just about you, the individual; it is about all of us and our planet. The corporations, the politicians and the media are in bed together; they cannot see past their immediate needs and desires for power and control. Only as We, The People, take a stand for truth and transparency will there be significant change. Nature does not care who votes and who doesn't. She will follow Her pathway of Universal Principles.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on July 14, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have been reading the latest race by race polling. If the Republicans really think they are going to win this fall they had better close the deal. Individual Democrats are doing better than they should for a wave election.

I am beginning to think Gibbs was merely lowering expectations when he warned of a Republican take over of the house.

Michelle Bachmann's opponent is within striking distance. Harry Reid is closing the gap on Angle. Pennsylvania is a toss-up. Go figure.

Wait until independents figure out that Republicans care more about tax cuts for the rich than reducing the deficit. Senator Kyl, bring on the debate for continuing the Bush tax cuts, bring it on.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 14, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner added, "People have a right to know that Congress will respect their will, whatever it is."

This statement should be included in every ad from now till November

Posted by: grandpajohn on July 14, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner added, "People have a right to know that Congress will respect their will, whatever it is."

Seems he forgot to inform Mitch about this

Posted by: grandpajohn on July 14, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

There point is simple. Congress should respect the will of the people as it has been most recently expressed. A national election counts but only until the next poll comes out or, even better, a few dozen people yell at town meetings. Then congress should respect them.

Posted by: Bostonian in Brooklyn on July 14, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, DXM.

Doesn't really matter whether you laugh or cry, LaBonne. As long as you and others continue to divide the party and insult its leader, your cynicism for the future will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by: cr on July 14, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I want to see the congressman's birth certificate. I want to find out when he inserted the 'eh' in his last name.

Posted by: rbe1 on July 14, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Clueless O-bots like phoebes-in-santa fe present me with a dilemma. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Posted by: Steve LaBonne on July 14, 2010 at 2:21 PM"

Sorry, Steve, but I am not an O-bot, clueless or otherwise. I am, however, someone who has lived through the eight years of Bush/Cheney and seen everything from my civil rights to my bank account take a hit from their policies. I have watched the same thing happening to the rest of the country I love. I have seen my country's reputation in the world sink lower and lower as Bush involved us in frivolous wars-of-choice.

I'm almost 60 years old, and a political pragmatist. I've been active in politics all my life, both in volunteer work and voracious reading of political histories and biographies.

So, yeah, I think Obama has done a pretty good job in their 18 months in office, considering where we started on Jan 20, 2009. For those who think he hasn't "done enough", please look at your history. HCR maybe wasn't as strong as you (or I) would like, but once it's on the books, future Democratic-led congresses will amend it so it's stronger. Same thing they did with the first Civil Rights Act passed in the mid 1960's.

It's real easy to be a "progressive" Democrat - and God love 'em - but they are as impractical in their view of politic realities as their counter-parts on the Right, the "Tea Baggers". Did they think that Obama only had to wave his hands and Guantanamo would be closed, the economy would miraculously heal itself, and social issues would be turned our way? Just like those on the Right, who champion Sarah Palin, think that once she's elected president, that she'll wave her arms and abortion will be illegal, we'll bomb the crap out of Iran, and our society will go back to the good ol' days of the 1950's.

So, I think Obama has done a pretty good job so far. I wish we'd get out of Afghanistan, but other than that, he's been dealing with the realities of government and party politics.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on July 14, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

[Boner] called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to "guarantee -- right now -- that they will not bring members back for a 'sour grapes' session after the election."

Pelosi already got played into taking impeachment for Bush's crimes off the table prematurely. No deals for anyone this time.

Posted by: Gregory on July 14, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I've been noticing the Republican ads appearing on my local channel. Putting aside the negative attack ads, I've been noticing those 30-second adds that try to present the candidate in a positive light with their positions and have concluded that they could save a ton of money by just saying, "Vote for me, I'll do what Bush did. That doesn't take 30-seconds by a long shot, but I suppose that they are required to purchase air time in 30 second increments.

Posted by: sparrow on July 14, 2010 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK
I wish we'd get out of Afghanistan, but other than that, he's been dealing with the realities of government and party politics.

Those realities are killing this country, and contrary to his campaign rhetoric he's done less than squat to try to change them. (And the only impressive thing about his legislative "accomplishments" is the wishful-thinking titles of the bills.) He's a probable one-termer as a result. That's a long way from a "pretty good job". In normal times he might have been a decent president, but we don't live in normal times and he's not nearly up to the challenge. Or else he's really not on our side at all, take your pick.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on July 14, 2010 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Or else he's really not on our side at all, take your pick." Steve LaBonne @ 8:34 PM.

A tad bit presumptuos, no?
I'm a progressive and you certainly don't have my permission to speak for ME. I would greatly appreciate it if you'd stop.
Nor would you suffer from a course or three in basic math and political science. Just how many Republicans voted for the stimulus? The AFA? How many times have Republican prevented legislation from even getting to the floor of the Senate? That's the math part.
Regarding the political science part, although it DOES tie in with the math, I can imagine no more certain way to insure being a one-term president than consistently failing to pass primary pieces of legislation. Sort of gives the impression that you just aren't up to the job, you know? Passed legislation, however, is always subject to future tweakings; sometimes additions, other times subtractions. That's what is know as "politics"; you get what you can now and pull an Oliver later: "Please Sir, I'd like some more."
All those things that polled so well? Such as the public option. Not enough votes. Stronger financial regulation? Not enough votes. I won't continue, but you get the idea. Now had the Democrats actually had a Democratic majority, as opposed to a majority of Representatives id-ing as Democrats, I might have some sympathy for your views.
But we don't. And all your childish whining about how President Obama has shafted the progressives won't change this fact: progressives just didn't have the votes.
This time. But, not naming anyone you understand, I'm more worried about continuing the reform process that's begun, than futilely wasting time apportioning blame.
That's what a progressive does.

Posted by: Doug on July 14, 2010 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

phoebes-in-santa fe You are spot on. The Progessive movement seems lazy to me or inexperienced at best. I too have been involved in politics for years and while I realize that 2008 was monumental it was just the beginning of change. I'm continually shocked that Democrats thought everything would be on track and just the way we would like it within two years. I'm very pleased with the progress we have made but I doubt everything we really want will be accomplished at the end of President Obama's eight year tenure in the White House.
Progressives...don't give up, don't despair, keep your feet moving and your will strong, keep the faith and your patience and realize that you have the best possible chance to get what you want with this current Administration, probably the best you will have in your lifetime. Again I say...KEEP THE FAITH.

Posted by: maggie on August 10, 2010 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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