Rich Galen apparently has a direct link to my brain, as his column today says exactly what I was thinking when I went to bed and again when I groggily arose to the new reality of Pelosi et al in charge of Congress. It will be easy (and tempting) for opponents of the GWOT to claim that their cause, more than any other, is the major source of voter dissatisfaction, and thus must claim precedence in the decisions that will be made in the next two years. Rich Galen and I (and many others) know better.
His words, unapologetically lifted, in toto:
I don’t care how many times the news programs, papers and magazines tell us the blowout last night was because of the Iraq war.
It was because the American public has decided that Republicans are no longer good stewards of the US Congress and threw them out.
The Republican Leadership has allowed the Members to engage in self-dealing on an unprecedented scale. Whether it was trips paid for by lobbyists; hiring family members at high salaries to plan parties; steering consulting business to former staffers; or outright bribery, Members of Congress have been developed a sense of entitlement which would embarrass most of us.
The Republican Leadership has allowed the Members to spend too much of our money on projects most of us don’t care about, don’t need and, if we knew about them, wouldn’t want.
These are "earmarks" – the business of demanding that Federal agencies spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to placate favored friends, businesses, donors and/or lobbyists which became the norm among members of the Appropriations Committees.
Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee chairs are known as "The Cardinals," which indicates their high status as first amongst equals. It was a title they have embraced. It was a position younger Members aspired to. Get a position on an Appropriations sub-committee and your fund-raising problems are over.
Maybe it was always thus, but we expected better of the inheritors of the Gingrich Revolution.
The Mark Foley matter was not the norm, but it became the shorthand for everything a majority of Americans thought had gone wrong with the Republican Leadership in the House.
We have been told the House Leadership only knew about the e-mails, but didn’t know about the instant messages until they became public and we all found out about them.
A. If it takes that long to explain something, you’ve already lost the argument and,
B. The House Leadership has done nothing to give us any confidence they were telling us the truth.
The Republican members of the House Leadership couldn’t get their stories straight. They couldn’t remember who had told what to whom or when. All we knew was that it looked very much like they – either by themselves or through their staffs – were protecting a potential pedophile, allowing him to continue to prey on House Pages.
And you wonder why, as of 2:30 AM on Wednesday morning, according to CNN, the Democrats have picked up 26 seats; a number which will most certainly go higher as more votes are counted and more concession speeches are required.
Give credit to the Democrats. They succeeded in winning control of the House – and potentially the Senate, but we may not know the answer to that for a month – without a single positive plan.
All they had was the best possible slogan: Had enough?
Like a significant number of voters, I am angry at what the Republican Leadership has squandered. I am angry that they allowed themselves to get rocked so far back on their heels that even the extremely positive message about the unemployment figures released last Friday – 4.4 percent, the lowest since May 2001 – went totally unnoticed.
Republicans will come back next week and a bunch of them will order cardboard boxes to pack up their papers and ship them home to a Federal depository library.
Thousands of Republican staff members will go off the payroll at noon on January 3, 2007 when the Congress officially expires. Most have similar skill sets. Most will not find those high-paying jobs in Washington to which so many aspire.
Many former staffers who have built their entire careers dealing with their previous bosses will find themselves struggling to convince their clients that they should continue to pay enormous fees for access to power which has evaporated.
Now. Let’s see how long it takes for Lord Acton’s famous cautionary phrase to apply to the new Democratic majority.
CWCID: Rich Galen’s Mullings