Thursday, November 09, 2006

What I Hope Will Happen ...

In the wake of Tuesday's mid-term elections in the United States, I've been musing about what could happen now that the US government's legislative houses are no longer aligned with the executive.

The current situation for George W. Bush is actually similar to where Stephen Harper finds himself today - neither of them "fully control" the political environment anywhere near as much as they would desire to. (Yes, I realize that the powers that Bush holds are quite different from those that Harper holds as Prime Minister, but neither has the ability to "railroad" their policies through the legislative process right now)

If the Democrats are reasonably smart about things, and this may depend heavily on how effectively Nancy Pelosi can manage the caucus, then I would expect to see anything that originates at the behest of the White House to get approved - after major revisions are made.

The Democrats have a delicate balance to achieve this time. They can't be seen as simply blocking everything, or the Republicans will have an enormous club to use next election. Yet, they must be seen to be doing everything they can to temper and moderate the extremes coming out of the White House. (This might mean, for example, scrutinizing money bills - especially for military spending; placing conditions on that spending, demanding full accounting audits of prior disbursements etc.)

If they can play this game effectively for the next two years, then Bush will find himself forced to do one of the following:

a) Veto the legislation. {Pretty poor form, actually - and a maneuver that will come back to haunt the Republicans in 2008}

b) Sign it, but issue a "signing statement" (as he has done a record number of times already)

c) Grit his teeth and sign it.

I suspect we'll see very little c), and lots of b).

The Democrats will have to be a bit cautious in their handling of Bush himself. As a friend commented, there's something vaguely feral about his responses, and I wouldn't want to see how he reacts when he feels cornered.

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