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Bush hobbled or Bush unbound? « Previous | |Next »
November 8, 2006

Will the midterm Congressional results help the Bush Whitehouse find a consensual way out of the mess he has created? Or will Bush be a defiant president who spends his final two years in office in conflict with the Democratic legislature that Americans have chosen to represent them ? I fear that it is going to be the latter. The Republicans are just not that interested in the fact that large numbers of Americans passionately disagreed with their policies.

Martin Rowson

Does the Democrats post election talk of new directions imply that they have the answers on Iraq? Simon Tisdall, writing in the Guardian, suggests not:

...the Democrats have no coherent view of the matter.Hillary Clinton, the 2008 presidential hopeful, opposes an Iraq withdrawal timetable. John Kerry, beaten by Mr Bush in 2004, wants a firm deadline. John Murtha, who will control the committee that appropriates cash for the Iraq war, is demanding an immediate withdrawal. Joe Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, advocates a tripartite division of Iraq into semi-autonomous federal zones. All that unifies them is criticism of Mr Bush's performance.

Does the change in the balance of power in Washington mean Bush hobbled or Bush unbound?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:55 PM | | Comments (4)


The executive still gets to make foreign policy, but has to get the legislative sufficiently on side that they fund it through money bills. The Democrats can mainly influence Iraq and foreign policy through legislation really. It is still the President's war and Bush probably won't be able to get away from that. Given that the next round of Presidential elections are coming up and the Democrats had so much success with Bush's failures in governance, they probably don't want to amplify their new found influence on Iraq policy anyway.

Because the Democrats have the lower house they can certainly make policies more efficient by scrutinizing in committees more closely the actions of the executive and their spending of monies.

The Bush Administration has been pretty strong on the Executive getting to do everything so I doubt they will let go foreign policy as one of their responsibilities.

the dems will allow bush to twist in the wind. they cannot improve the iraq situation, so will simply make sure that it remains bush's war.

where they can make useful changes is in domestic issues- notably in recovering some of the money thrown to the very rich, and spending it on schools and hospitals.

with these two themes, control of the house and frequent control of the senate, the democrat party will be well placed for the next presidential elections. success then may lead to recovering some of the freedoms legislated away under bush.

or maybe not. humans are averse to giving up power, and dems, in the end, are politicians- not fundamentally different from republicans. neither party is about to devolve power onto the people by instituting citizen-initiated referendum.

Though American voters voted for a change in direction in Iraq, it looks as if there is going to be a continuation of the imperial presidency doesn't it.

An editorial in the New York Times says that:

voters made it crystal clear that they want a change in direction in Iraq. Democratic and Republican leaders alike agreed that it had to begin with replacing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.President Bush showed that he had heard the second half of that message and finally rid himself of the man whose bad judgments and inept leadership had done so much to create the mess in Iraq. But it still was not clear that he has yet heard the first, and more important part of the message. At his press conference, Mr. Bush was still talking about victory in precisely the same terms he had used before the election, and offered no clear sense that he was prepared to open his mind to a real change in strategy.

He's locked in. Maybe, as F.D. Barton suggests in the New York Times the Iraqi Government can force Bush's hand by demanding the phased withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq. Barton says the Iraqi prime Minister's 'new independence is America’s best chance to salvage the muddle Iraq has become. Let’s not get in his way.'

good analysis. I noticed that the Republican talking heads on cable news were saying that the Dems won on the strength of moderate and socially conservative candidates. I guess it is going to take them and the Bush administration some time to recognizes the midterm results are a rebuke of their Iraq War policy.

It does look as if Bush is changing tack as the new political winds start to blow in Washington.Bush has ousted Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and said that hopes to find "common ground" with the Democrats and he wanted a "fresh perspective" at the Pentagon.

Does that mean he has to dump his strategy to never cross his base? It was only yesterday that White House officials were writing off Congress as a bastion of liberalism. I guess that yesterday was still the era of one-party Republican rule in Washington.The new talking points will be heard today.

Peter Wallsten in the Los Angeles Times says:

White House allies suggest there is little reason to think Bush and the Democrats will work together. Bush has tied himself closely to conservative movement leaders who bitterly disagree with Democrats for their opposition to tax cuts and to privatizing Social Security — two of the administration's top goals.

Wallsten quotes anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a close advisor to the White House:
.."When we want to go up and they want to go down, we want to go right and they want to go left, there's no compromise." Norquist said the Republicans' primary goal for the next two years should be making the case for GOP control — not bipartisanship.