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  •  I would actually cut them less slack... (0+ / 0-)
    if this were back then, because back then Jeffords had given them some power.  If we still controlled the Senate, even by a bare 50-49-1 majority, I would be much more frustrated at the failure of the Democrats to ensure true oversight-- because whether or not to hold hearings, subpeona witnesses, and so on would actually be within their control.

    But I think we need to cut them more slack while they're in the minority in both houses, because there's a limit to what they can accomplish from that position.  Most of what they can accomplish from their current position would be symbolic gestures, and as BradDad said above in a slightly different context, I don't think we should come down so hard on them for having a different opinion about the efficacy of those symbolic gestures with respect to their chances of actually gaining enough power that they can really do something.  I agree with BradDad that the real question is whether we can take back at least one house of Congress this fall.  Then, if the newly-empowered Democrats don't do anything to stop the President, I'll be infuriated right along with you.

    •  You make a good point in ... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that first paragraph. But, as for this minority status allowing them more slack, I can't agree, at least not when it comes to Constitutional matters. One could otherwise argue that they shouldn't be voting AT ALL since they can't change anything.

      •  In those cases where not voting... (0+ / 0-)
        accomplishes either a substantive gain or a political gain unaccompanied by a substantive loss, I'd be OK with it.  I was fine with the Texas Democrats' quorum-breaking attempts to defeat the DeLay gerrymander, for example.  Likewise with the mass abstentions on the mutilated version of Murtha's withdrawal resolution that House Republicans forced to the floor as a stunt.

        Most of the time, not voting at all will be bad because either (1) you give up some chance to change the final form of the bill in question so that it does more good or at least less harm, or
        (2) you hurt yourself politically and lessen the chance that you'll have power to change future bills, or both.  But that's a context-dependent statement about what usually should be, not an absolute rule.  

        I therefore don't think I view the possibility that one could argue for not voting as so uniformly and obviously wrong that it supports a reductio ad absurdum argument (which is what I think you were making if I understood you correctly).

    •  And what evidence is there that having the House (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      freeyourmind, bablhous, martik

      is going to be any different? What attitude, what politicking, what cahones?

      The idea of the Dems winning the House actually worries me; the January 2007 picture I see right now is a bunch of appologists tripping over each other to "change the tone in Washington" and "work with the President" while sending people like Conyers off to broom closets to conduct tiny, inconsequential investigations.

      So, the Dems actually get the House? They ought to establish a frickin' Truth and Accountability Commission to turn over every damn Republican crime and atrocity, and have a gigantic sign put on the Capitol dome counting the number of Bush Administration officials serving time in Federal prison. A 24/7 cable network to cover it all too, while they're at it . . .

      What, pray tell, do any of us see that suggests that any of that is going to happen?

      •  John Conyers will be the _Chairman_... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chrississippi
        of the Judiciary Committee if the Democrats take back the House.  Nobody is going to be able to send him off to a broom closet even if they wanted to.  And if you look at the rest of the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee, it's not like they're going to try to stop his investigations-- can you really see Reps like Jerry Nadler, Bobby Scott, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Maxine Waters, Marty Meehan, or Debbie Wasserman-Schulz resisting Conyers's effort to ferret out the facts?

        Conyers isn't the only Democrat I think most Kossacks would approve of who's going to be in a powerful position if the Dems take back the House. Louise Slaughter, one of the other members of Congress who actually posts on dKos (and usually to widespread approval), will chair the Rules Committee, perhaps the single most powerful commitee in the House.  Charlie Rangel will be Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, another of the most powerful committees in the House.  Henry Waxman will be Chairman of the Government Reform Committee.  John Murtha will be Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee (and David Obey, no slouch himself, will chair the Appropriations Committee as a whole).

        Looking at the specific people involved rather than your amorphous image of "the Dems" as a whole, do you really think any of them, given the powers that a committee chair has, will use those powers to be "tripping over each other to 'change the tone in Washington' and 'work with the President'"?

        As for whether the House will be "different" than having the Senate, I actually have more hope for the Senate as well if we retake it this time, because of a version of Meteor Blades' point: the problem wasn't so obvious last time the Democrats controlled the Senate.  Also, I think Harry Reid will be significantly more willing to use power to fight with the President than Tom Daschle was.

        •  I would absolutely love you to be right. (0+ / 0-)

          What worries me most isn't the rank and file; it's the leadership----and I should have been more specific in my post up above.

          In spite of every bit of evidence to the contrary, the Democratic leadership continues to act as though careful strategery is an effective weapon against the Rethugs and the MSM. Thus the Nervous Nellie finger-in-the-windism, puncutated by the occasional public comment just barely sharp enough to draw a bit of blood.

          It's just not enough in this political environment.

          Do you seriously see this problem being any different when we've got control of the House? That somehow Superman emerges from the back of the Cloakroom? Slashing Republicans right and left? Sending them through the Ethics Committee like a frathouse spanking machine? Kicking subpoenas out by the truckload?

          I just can't. Not yet, and not from anything we've seen or heard lately.

          •  The point I was trying to make above... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chrississippi
            is that when we take back the House, the dividing line between "rank and file" and "leadership" is going to change in an important way.  I think the mistake you're making is seeing the "leadership" as a sort of constant, amorphous blob rather than looking at the people who'll actually hold the various levers of power.

            Committee chairs have a significant amount of authority (as do subcommittee chairs, to a lesser extent).   When all Democrats can do is talk, the media pays a lot more attention to someone like Nancy Pelosi than to a committee ranking member.  But when Democrats take back the House, initial media inattention won't stop Conyers or Waxman from holding committee hearings and making liberal use of the subpeona power (pun initially unintended but left in on purpose).  Eventually those hearings, or at least their results, will command the attention of the media.

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