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All’s Not Well in Donkeyland

Republicans surely have the bigger problem.  They’re back in the minority after a dozen years running the show on Capitol Hill.  And they’ve compounded the problem by making what appears to be an Hispanic affirmative action pick for the new boss of the Republican National Committee (Sen. Mel “Guest Worker” Martinez), by bringing world-class pork-barreler Trent Lott back into the leadership ranks of the United States Senate, and by keeping the same top two leaders in the House (Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt) who oversaw the November 7 debacle which gave the nation “Speaker” Pelosi.
 
If inside-the-beltway Republicans ever learn lessons, it seems they learn the wrong ones.
 
But it’s not all cookies-and-cream over on the Democrat side of the aisle by any stretch.
 
*  The top bananas in their party, starting with How-weird Dean and San Fran Nan, are FAR more liberal than the nation as a whole.  They likely won’t be able to resist the urge to overreach…like Hillary did with nationalized health care in the early 90s.  And when they do, voters will rebel and break out the pitchforks.
 
*  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a critical mistake in publicly backing Rep. Jack Murtha over Rep. Steny Hoyer for the party’s No. 2 slot.  She made an existing rift in her caucus even worse, hardening already hard feelings.  But she also committed the unpardonable political sin of not vanquishing her opponent and leaving him to fight another day.  Her candidate, Murtha, lost.  The rule is: If you’re gonna kill the king, kill the king.  Hoyer remains alive and kicking.
 
*  The Hill reported last week that “Five female members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) refused to back incoming Caucus Chairman Joe Baca (D.-Calif.) in a vote Wednesday, citing concerns ranging from poor management of the group’s political arm to a lack of respect for female lawmakers.”  The paper noted the meeting devolved into a “nasty closed-door debate” and some believe the group will break up over gender lines.
 
*  One of the reasons Democrats picked up a number of seats is that they ran non-traditional Democrat candidates; candidates who were pro-gun, pro-life, and in some cases … anti-tax!  Free-thinking, if not conservative, Democrats on these key issues are gonna cause a lot of problems for the majority down the road – just as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) such as soon-to-be ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee did for Republicans.
 
And re-election in the House for Democrats is gonna be no Sunday picnic either.  A number of Democrats won seats they’d never have won were it not for major scandals — such as the Mark “Happy Pants” Foley seat in Florida.  Those first-time D’s are gonna have a whale of a time getting re-elected if the GOP puts up strong candidates in 2008.
 
Also, there’s the little matter of gerrymandering.  Again, a number of seats the Democrats picked up on November 7 were drawn by GOP-friendly legislatures to be GOP friendly.  Or at least competitive.  Yes, incumbency is a big advantage.  But an incumbent is most vulnerable the first time he or she runs for re-election.  And in a “swing” district, holding on is going to be tough for a lot of these freshman Democrats.
 
To give you a better idea of this political landscape and how it works against Democrats, consider this: According to Ryan Ellis, Federal Affairs Manager over at Americans for Tax Reform, there are now 60 Democrats in the House who represent districts President Bush won in 2004.  But there are now only 9 Republicans in the House representing districts that John Kerry won.  These Democrats are strangers in a strange land.
 
So here’s the bottom line: Republicans will have an excellent opportunity to retake control of the House in two years.  However, if they fail to do so in 2008, it could be a LONG time before they ever get control of the gavel again.  And while Democrats may have the majority for now, it’s anything but solid.  Perhaps the best thing they have going for them is that Republicans never seem to blow an opportunity to blow and opportunity.
 
I don’t know whether to pop a Prozac or drink the Kool-Aid.

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Written By

Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach.

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