Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Massachusetts Blues

"Mr. Brown was able to appeal to independents who were anxious about the economy and concerned about the direction taken by Democrats, now that they control all the branches of government, both on Beacon Hill and in Washington."
G.O.P. Takes Massachusetts Senate Seat
I'm not from Massachusetts, so I don't know about Beacon Hill, but I do know that the idea that the Democrats "control all the branches of government" on Capitol Hill is patently false. For starters, the Supreme Court of the United States is not an elected body, and it is officially non-partisan -- and even if it wasn't, right now, it looks as though it would be 5 to 4 in favor of Republicans. Additionally, the idea that Democrats control Congress is iffy, at best. While President Bush may have wielded more power than was strictly due to the office of the President, he did so because, in effect, Congressional Republicans moved in lockstep as efficiently as if they'd been legally barred from thinking for themselves. Democrats, on the other hand, can't agree that the sky is blue 80% of the time. While the Bush Administration reduced the Democrats to functional irrelevance with a smaller majority than the Democrats have now, the Obama Administration finds that it's alleged control of Congress is more of a hindrance than a help. And given how many different and oppositional constituencies the Democrats represent, they could have all but one seat in both houses, and still get nothing done.

(As mush as the common wisdom says that the Republican drive for purity is a huge mistake, for the time being, it's turning out to be brilliant. The Democratic attempt to pick up those voters the Republicans have cast out has done little for them other than make what was already a famously fractured party even more scattered.)

Democrats are an organized political force in name only. And while anyone who's ever watched two Democrats try to agree on anything may be fully aware of that, the G.O.P. has successfully conjured up the idea of a far-left Juggernaut to be the current political Hobgoblin. Amusingly, the Democrats were too dis-unified to even manage to combat the fiction of overwhelming unity.

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