First, hallelujah like all hell that the Democrats took the House and, in about 1 and a half hours or so when George Allen of Virginia concedes the race to Jim "Dirty Writin'" Webb, will officially take control of the Senate. Strangely, I'm not really excited about it. I'm mostly just relieved. This Congress and this President have done terrible things to our country for six years and I've actually gotten accustomed to hearing news reports night after night about how the Republicans are sending the country down the crapper. It's been a really bad time for reasonable people in this country and I don't know if I'll be able to handle positive political news again. My minimal expectation for this new Congress is that this rush of awful policy decisions (taking us into Iraq, botching the occupation of Iraq, Abu Ghraib, legalizing torture, ending our right to habeas corpus as we know it, mishandling the Katrina response, making it more difficult for people to declare bankruptcy, passing steep tax cuts for the wealthy and for big corporations like Exxon, shooting old men in the face with birdshot, etc., etc.), will end. On this, the second day after the election, both sides are talking about bipartisanship and compromise and getting things done. That's sweet and all, but if history is any indicator, I expect we'll see little in the way of compromise from this President. I believe something will happen with immigration reform because Bush's views on the issue are more in line with the Democrat's views than with his fellow Republicans. Maybe even a slight raise in the minimum wage. But other than that, I see deadlock in the future. I see each party putting up ideas that will appeal to their bases so that they can protest loudly when the other side knocks it down. If Bush was smart, if Bush wanted to save his abysmal Presidency from Worst in History status, he'd co-opt the Democratic agenda in his last two years and start getting real legislation passed through a shell-shocked Congress. Like Clinton did. In any event, I expect an obstructionist Congress and after these 6 years, that's a beautiful thing. I also expect the subpoenas to fly fast and furious, and that's an even beautiful-er thing.
I enjoyed Bush's press conference yesterday. He seemed almost contrite. And a little like he'd just been kicked hard in the crotch. Firing Donald Rumsfeld was a great (and shocking) move, the only sane thing Bush has done in as long as I can remember, but it would have been an even greater move three years ago when things started to go to hell after the initial invasion. Or two years ago after Abu Ghraib. Or even one year ago when Iraq was descending into civil war. It's as if Bush never gave any credence to his critics (who've all been clamoring for Rumsfeld's ouster for years and years), until the voters put those critics in power. Oh, now they might have a point. What a bunch of arrogant bastards. How's this for arrogance? For your reading pleasure, an excerpt from an interview Karl Rove did with NPR's Robert Siegel a couple of days before the election:
SIEGEL: We're in the home stretch, though, and many would consider you on the optimistic end of realism about -Unbelievable. Everyone else is wrong, but Rove, the "architect" is right. Everyone else is just too dumb to see what he sees. Which was why seeing Bush smack Rove a little in front of the press corps yesterday was particularly gratifying. A reporter asked Bush about a reading contest the President and Rove were having. Bush said, "He's winning. I guess I was working harder on the campaign than he was." I laughed and laughed. Sure it was a dick thing to say to the guy who put your incompetent ass in the White House not once but twice, but it's Rove, so who's complaining? No one deserves a public spanking more than Turd Blossom.
ROVE: Not that you would be exhibiting a bias ...
SIEGEL: I'm looking at all the same polls that you're looking at every day.
ROVE: No, you're not. No, you're not.
SIEGEL: No, I'm not.
ROVE: No, you're not. You're not. I'm looking at 68 polls a week. You may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally but that do not impact the outcome of -
SIEGEL: I'm looking at main races between - certainly Senate races.
ROVE: Well, like the poll today showing that Corker's ahead in Tennessee, or the poll showing that Allen is pulling away in the Virginia Senate race.
SIEGEL: Leading Webb in Virginia, yeah.
Mr. ROVE: Exactly.
SIEGEL: But you've seen the DeWine race and the Santorum race - I don't want to have you call races.
ROVE: Yeah, I'm looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math, I'm entitled to THE math.
SIEGEL: Well, I don't know if we're entitled to our different math, but you're certainly -
ROVE: I said THE math. I said you're entitled to yours.
Anyway. The rubber doesn't hit the road, as they say, until everyone gets sworn in in January. I think the two months leading up to the matriculation of the new Congress will be mercifully politics-free, and I am pleased with that. And when they do, I hope Speaker-Designate Pelosi stays true to what she said in an interview with Brian Williams the other night. She said she would preside over the most "open and honest" government in history. How refreshing is that? I'm looking forward to watching what happens next year with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid. (I enjoyed writing that last sentence quite a bit.)
In unrelated news, Ed Bradley died from leukemia today. He was only 65. Terrible. Aside from that silly earring he started wearing back in the nineties, he was a great television reporter.