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Will a Democratic House of President really make the difference ?

by oldfrog Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 08:03:19 AM EST

Staying the Course, Win or Lose

By Robert Kagan
Thursday, November 2, 2006; Page A17

BRUSSELS -- Here in Europe, people ask hopefully if a Democratic victory in the congressional elections will finally shift the direction of American foreign policy in a more benign direction. But congressional elections rarely affect the broad direction of American foreign policy. A notable exception was when Congress cut funding for American military operations in support of South Vietnam in 1973. Yet it's unlikely that a Democratic House would cut off funds for the war in Iraq in the next two years.

Indeed, the preferred European scenario -- "Bush hobbled" -- is less likely than the alternative: "Bush unbound." Neither the president nor his vice president is running for office in 2008. That is what usually prevents high-stakes foreign policy moves in the last two years of a president's term. In 1988 Ronald Reagan had negotiated a clever agreement to get the dictator Manuel Noriega peacefully out of Panama, but Vice President George H.W. Bush and his advisers feared the domestic political repercussions of cutting a deal with a drug lord at the height of the "war on drugs," so they nixed the plan. The result was that Bush had to invade Panama the very next year to remove Noriega -- but he did get elected.

This President Bush doesn't have to worry about getting anyone elected in 2008 and appears to be thinking only about his place in history. That can lead him to act in ways that please Europeans -- for instance, the vigorous multilateral diplomacy on Iran and North Korea. But it could also take him in directions they will find worrisome if that diplomacy fails.

link WAPO

I am afraid that Kaplan is right. The whole article is well worth reading. Or will a new Europe (militarily speaking too) play another role in the future ? But the most intresting question is what are the chances of the really progressive opinion in the US (the one that considers the current Democrat leadership as "dinos") to make a difference in the future... ? Must the US go though some kind of collapse to get nearer European values ?

Losing the congress would also unbind any congresspeople vying for the Republican nomination in 2008, as either Bush or the democratic congress would be blamed for whatever happens in the next two years, and not them.

In other words, congressional Republican leaders would as the majority try their best to moderate a lame-duck Bush, but as the minority they only stand to gain unless they descend into infighting. If they lose they can also shed a lot of the corruption weight.

So, would a Democratic congress face a more aggressive White House and deliver another Republican president in 2008?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 08:11:58 AM EST
The big thing about winning the House -- as opposed to the Senate -- is that there are several important House committees ready to launch debilitating investigations of Bushco. These investigations are likely to take down quite a few of the potential 2008 contenders and, if they're done right, finally make the point that Republicans are simply too corrupt and incompetent to hold public office.

So I honestly don't think there's any downside to Dems taking over the House. The Senate, on the other hand -- and I would never dare post this on dKos! -- is best left to the Rethugs for all the reasons you and Kaplan cite. There's that slimey tradition of "collegiality" in the Senate, plus the fact that a rather large minority of Senate Democrats (between 12 and 14, depending on who wins Nov. 7) have already gone on record as supporting Bush's torture policies, his wingnut judges, his claims to a "unitary executive," etc. The only "good" side to all this (and I'm not exactly filled with hope here) is that several 2008 contenders -- McCain, Obama, Clinton in particular -- will for once have to reveal their true political colors.

by Matt in NYC on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 08:31:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So winning the House and losing the Senate would be a good thing?

What would really frighten the Dinos would be more grassroots threats during the next round of primaries.

Lamont may be a stiff-assed noob, but he's not Lieberman. And it would be fun to watch Hillary and the rest deal with some real political accountability.

(But of course I'm dreaming, aren't I?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 09:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<piano chords>

You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one...

</piano chords>

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 09:52:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<doom, gloom, and acres of woe>

And we all know how that ended.

</doom, gloom and acres of woe>

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 10:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really must practise my ironic piano playing, it's not getting across ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 12:02:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What kind of a majority is needed in Congress for congress (one or both chambers) to take the initiative of new legislation. i.e. what kind of policy-making can we expect?

If there are no realistic prospects of actual policy initiatives, then the Democratic Congress should focus on accountability. Cleaning house, publicly and transparently, i.e. impeachment of the president and investigations of all the other co-conspirators, should be the exclusive mission of this Congress, while a case should be made for a comprehensive mandate starting in 2008 on an ambitious agenda led from the White House.

Sigh. Dreaming again...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 03:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To have any hope of getting important bills through -- like a new Energy Bill, ending the tax cuts, making torture illegal again -- Democrats would have to have veto-proof (i.e., two-thirds) majorities in both houses. Since that is impossible in the Senate and highly improbable in the House, I agree that the best they can do the next two years is to clean house and mobilize voters for 2008.
by Matt in NYC on Sat Nov 4th, 2006 at 01:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All funding bills must originate in the House, though, so it would be possible to shut off funding for the war in Iraq with a simple majority. However, that would only happen if the Democrats wanted to shut down said war, which they don't.
by asdf on Sat Nov 4th, 2006 at 10:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET, ma vieille grenouille.

As to the thrust of your diary, I agree that Europeans would be wrong to expect a change in Congress to bring about an American foreign policy more acceptable to them.

A collapse of America would probably entail the collapse of a great deal else, including Europe. It's not obvious that the result would be an overall consensus based on "European values". More costly energy and environmental pressure might bring about change, without collapse, in a direction we would prefer to see. Hope springs eternal ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 09:50:59 AM EST
well collapse is a strong word, I mean a deep crisis more like in the thirties. The worse is that we already are hinting it...

Productivity slows, wage pressures mount By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
1 hour, 32 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The productivity of American workers slowed to a standstill in the summer, while wages were rising at the fastest clip in more than two decades -- a combination likely to raise inflation concerns at the        Federal Reserve.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, showed no change in the July-September quarter, while labor costs rose by 3.8 percent. For the past year, wages and other labor costs are up by 5.3 percent, the fastest increase since 1982.

While rising wages and benefits are good news for workers, they raise concerns about inflation especially at a time when productivity is slowing. If companies decide to pass on their higher payroll costs by boosting the price of their products, that could translate into increased inflation.

In other economic news, orders to factories for manufactured products rose by 2.1 percent in September, the biggest increase in six months, but virtually all of the strength came in a surge in orders for commercial aircraft. The        Commerce Department said that orders for long-lasting durable goods were up 8.3 percent, offsetting a 4.6 percent drop in demand for food, gasoline and other nondurable products.


by oldfrog on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 11:55:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]

A collapse of America would probably entail the collapse of a great deal else, including Europe.

This is taken as a given by almost everyone, but I see no reason for it to happen. The European economy is in fact much influenced by what happens in the USA than is commonly believed, and it has much greater balance and stability altogether.

Various studies show that changes in eurozone GDP - even in individaual country GDPs show very little correlation to the economic outlook of the rest of the world - and even of neighboring countries (to a lesser extent)

I exepct the big crisis to come via a collapse of the dollar at some point, with the euro taking the brunt of the adjustment, but people will discover that European exports represent only 10% of GDP, and a lot of it is of price-insensitive goods that will withstand the currency shock; they will discover that the EU now exports more to China/Asia than to the US, and more chunks to the Middle East and other oil-exporting countries, and everybody will notice that the oil price will remain stable against the euro and not against the collapsing dollar.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 03:01:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
let me try and get this straight...

our house of cards is built on thier house of cards, and china calling in debts could collapse both?

and they say there's only one superpower in the world?

seems like the 'middle kingdom' is the conductor, and will start calling more tunes...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 04:43:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to look past the tactical partisan issues ("the Democratic House will investigate the Bush Administration") to the broad American strategic viewpoint. And when you do, you will discover that there's not much difference between the two main parties. The Democrats say that they would have gone into Iraq but done a better job. They would have found Osama. The would only sell arms to "true" allies. They would negotiate more cleverly with North Korea.

What the Democrats would NOT do, even if they controlled the House, the Senate, the Executive, and the Supreme Court, would be to turn around American international policy to eliminate imported oil, to eliminate international arms sales, to stop exploitation of Third World farmers by way of exported subsidized agriculture, etc. There is not much difference between the two parties, and you only have to look back over the history of previous administrations to see that our politicians are just like Euopean politicians: They will react to disasters, in a clumsy way, after they have happened, but will not take even the most obvious pro-active measures to prevent forseeable disasters.

by asdf on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 10:23:50 AM EST
who take harsh measures to avoid a repeat of the most recent (past) crisis, but are oblivious to the incoming one.

I agree in full with your assessment. I will be pursuing my quixotesque attempt to sell the gas tax and other assorted goodies to dKos in the future; watch that space...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 02:54:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if you permit the presumption in sharing this, i think you can drop the 'bad boy' act at dk, jerome.

you have a pulpit there, no need to make it a bully one...

perhaps if you harped more on what to do with the gas tax money, and how to make sure it goes to the right places, you will get EVEN MORE MOJO, lol!

not that i don't feel the appeal of schadenfreude, i do, all too human in that way i'm afraid.

quixotic is right!

of course with enough windmills in the great plains folks will still get around in electric vehicles, sailing go-karts and horse'n'buggies (complete with wifi and gps).

much more appealing than just telling them how the poor will be stuck unable to afford to go and party in town saturday night, or to drive to their mcjob at the local arms factory!

but secretly i think you love your role as agent provocateur/enfant terrible!

put spark to tinder and watch them flames!!!

so satisfying, i'm sure

truth...i'm dead jealous...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 04:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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