Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Be careful what you ask for

Well, it appears that the democrats have made significant gains in the elections yesterday (as I write this, the senate is still too close to call). Congratulations are in order, I suppose. However, for most of the past 12 years, the party has been their own worst enemies. And if they're not careful, they will continue to be so.

In particular, Democrats risk interpreting yesterday's vote as an endorsement of them rather than a repudiation of Republicans. I think doing so would be a huge mistake. While the Republicans (for once) were the source of their undoing, the Democrats largely won because they weren't Republicans, not because they had any great ideas of their own.

Pop quiz: while we all agree that Bush has done a terrible job of conducting the war in Iraq, what serious proposal have the Democrats had for doing it better? Yes, congressional oversight and getting Rumsfeld out (looks like the latter just came true) help, but gosh, those are the conditions for a strategy to succeed (which admittedly have been lacking), not an actual strategy itself.

I also worry that the Democrats will waste a lot of time on vindictive investigations rather than productive policymaking. The Democrats have been out of power for a while now, they may forget that it's very easy to complain about the folks with power, much more difficult to actually govern.

I predict that if they step up to their new responsibilities, govern in a unifying manner, avoid the vindictive investigations and focus on positive steps for a successful resolution to Iraq, they will do very well in 2008 and have a decent chance of capturing the white house (unless they nominate another dud like Kerry).

However, I suspect that the more likely scenario is that they will revert to their default behavior, have no credible policy alternatives of their own, and when 2008 comes around the Republicans will have a field day saying "we told you so" and will run roughshod over the Dems.

It will indeed be interesting to see how it turns out.

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