Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Republican irrelevancy

Matthew Yglesias makes a point I've made before -- Republicans will be essentially irrelevant in Washington after Jan. 20. Yglesias makes this point in refutation of Elizabeth Drew's wondering how Obama can get GOP cooperation, and the obvious answer is, "Why bother?" There is very little likelihood that the Senate Republicans, with only 41 or 42 seats, could mount an effective filibuster of anything, and House Republicans are now utterly irrelevant to the governing process.

This goes to show how the mentality of some people has been influenced by recent history. Since Newt Gingrich and the GOP took Congress in 1994, the big question among liberals has been, "What will Republicans do?" Everything has been conditioned on that question, and they can't seem to shake the habit. (Fact: 41% of CNN viewers didn't even realize Democrats had taken control of Congress.)

Republicans never consolidated power. After six years of divided government, with congressional GOP fighting Clinton tooth and nail, when Bush took office he had a House with a very narrow Republican majority and a 1-seat majority in the Senate. At the very zenith of his power (2003-06) Bush never had more than 55 Republicans in the Senate, whereas Obama will have 58 Democrats, perhaps 59.

The GOP poses no impediment to Democrats enacting whatever policies Democrats want. This is (or should be) frightening, but the great disadvantage to Democrats is this: They can't blame Republicans.

Sure, for a while, they can say that they're dealing with the toxic result of the Bush years, but that song will get old pretty quick. By Election Day 2012, will expect Obama to have accomplished something -- not merely in terms of passing legislation, but actually making things better -- and it's hard to imagine him being able to do that.

Obama's progressive base doesn't understand that he can't enact the kind of left-wing economic program they expect, because it would cause capital flight from U.S. markets at a time when we're very much in need of capital. But I guarantee his economic advisers are cautioning him about this danger. Lawrence Summers is not a stupid man.

One of the keys to organizing a GOP resistance will be denying Obama and the Democrats the mantle of "bipartisanship" for any of their key measures. That is to say, House and Senate Republicans need to make sure that they whip the maximum number of "no" votes on Obama's agenda items, so that in 2010, they are in position to hang that agenda around the Democrats' necks in the midterms.


  1. He could get GOP cooperation if he came out and told us he was born in Kenya.

  2. Just have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. Not 62 seats, 42, and perhaps 41 or even 40.

  4. I do not think that the Republicans owe President-elect Obama anything. When the Democrats seek to gain Republican votes and or support, it is nothing but a cover if it goes wrong. Then, the Dems can say, "See, look it was bipartisan." or "We got some Republican votes." It will be a test of the "post partisan" Obama that will show that, he is just another lefty, partisan hack after all.

  5. "They can't blame Republicans."

    Who says they can't blame Republicans?

    They will blame Republicans, and a majority of Americans will believe them.

  6. Your distant crazy relation has already vowed to work closely with the Great Pumpkin on whatsoever his flinty little heart desires. Afterall, they are in almost all points, in close agreement.

    Sad, but there are 1 or 2, (eg McAntiConservative and his shadow Phil-me-up-with Gramnesty,) Senators and maybe 5 Housemembers who are essentially CINO-RINOs.

    There's a *lot* of work ahead. I can't shake the impression, though, that *we* are going about it bass-ackwards.

    I keep thinking that we need to start at the bottom, not top. And start by teaching what Conservatism & Constitutionalism actually are.

    I came to this after reading polls that said 61% of people thought that Great Pumpkin, Obie, *was* a Conservative and a follower of Reagan. Many of the same thought that Honest John was his VP pick. The worst part of this poll, is it was *just after these same people voted!* It left me the question: didn't these read the ballot? Perhaps the just voted straight ticket... I don't know.