Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another Senate Question

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

John McCain is still a Senator. What role should he have now in the Senate, vis-à-vis the new administration? He used to be someone who had a certain level of independence. Okay, actually that’s most related to working with Russ Feingold on the campaign finance reform legislation, but we’ll let that pass.

My first question, of course is, how do John and Joe work things out? TLB is detested by most of the Democratic Senators (not to mention, um, us regular folk) and John cannot be all that beloved by his people. Do they make a joint decision to function as a form of “independent bridge” between the parties? This could conceivably initially serve to aid in negotiations over the economic policies Obama will want to enact. (Yes, I am certainly cognizant of the fact that we have a majority in both Chambers, but a little bi-partisanship, at least initially, will go a long way to the implementation of the programs for which we are all clamouring. A strategic decision, somewhat more that a political decision.)

If John and Joe decide to act as a pack, what does that do to how they work with both caucuses? Remember the “Gang of Fourteen”? Is it possible that John and Joe could form an actual “third ring” within the Senate? If so, does that make working across the aisle easier or harder? Would something like that be a pathway to bipartisanship, or the start of a tri-party system?

Also, remember that John is the ranking Republican on Armed Services. Both he and TLB have a vision for Iraq that differs greatly from the majority party and the President-elect. Not to mention the fact that we have a UN mandate authorizing the US to have a military presence in Iraq, and it expires on 31 December 2008. This mandate has not, as of today, been extended. The possibility exists that the US will not have a legitimate right to be on Iraqi soil on 1 January 2009.

If the Baby Bush administration holds to its desire to put difficult things off, this issue may well land in President Obama’s lap. I cite as an example of this, the neo-con Bush White House’s promise to dismantle Gitmo, which they’ve decided to ignore as the clock runs out. To undertake the difficult task of disengagement from Iraq, is it better to seek consensus, or instead forge ahead with the far-left OUT!!! NOW!!! agenda? The ramifications can affect the tone of negotiations in many areas over time.

In 1992, the Clintons overreached, and burned a lot of bridges. It was part of the reason for the Newt et. al. sweep in 1994. There were no Democratic coattails in ’94. President-elect Obama is committed, in deed and action, towards moving the party, the platform, and the country forward. His are the principles of inclusion. If Republicans are alienated, will there be legislative election blowback in 2010 which could be avoided with a little reaching across the aisle? Or would it not matter, given the flow and trend?