Reality check

I've seen mention now of Pelosi's "First 100 hours" comments, and myriad other comments about what a Democratic Congress will "do". Some of the commentators seem not to understand what is possible and what is not.

First, let us suppose that my wildest dreams come true. In a historic election, Democrats gain 50 House seats and win control of the Senate 52-48, and Joe L gets clobbered by Lamont. Further, these sweeping gains infuse the entire party with a spine. (I know, I know, but bear with me here; I said I'm dreaming.) What then happens?

Well, there is a two month window from election to swearing in during which time the lame-duck Congress can return and pass all sorts of vile legislation to cover the regime's tracks. Even with the best parliamentary maneuvering by Reid and Pelosi, some gets through and is quickly signed into law, to be added to the stack already there.

Upon taking office, Speaker Pelosi makes sweeping changes to House rules and organization, beginning to clean up an ethical mess. On the Senate side, newly emboldened Senators tell the minority Republicans point blank that they'll kill any fillibuster with the nuclear option, and intend to run the Senate in as partisan a manner as they have endured. These changes all take effect, being entirely under the control of that branch of Congress.

In addition, both houses of Congress begin extensive investigation into Iraq, election malfeasance, Katrina bungling, Abramoff's connections, Enron, Foley Follies, war profitteering, and all the other regime crimes I'm forgetting. Again, these happen, being in the sole discretion of that branch of Congress.

And... that's about it. They don't have the votes to repeal anything, not enough to withstand a veto. And that veto pen will get red hot from friction quickly. They'll have the votes to pass articles of impeachment, if they choose, but they then need 15 Republican Senators to cross party lines in the Senate. That isn't happening without some unimaginable bombshell turning up. The Dems can block further legislation promoting the almighty Emperor... er, Executive; howver, what's already been passed gives the regime carte blanc to do damned near anything it wants. Further, executive branch officials begin to blow off congressional subpoenas and shred everything in reach. The regime would make ever wilder claims that it is beyond the reach of Congress. It is even possible that Congress is forced to try to use its funding powers to try to rein in the madness, provoking even higher tensions when Bush (for instance) orders an attack on Iran. Government is largely paralyzed for the next two years.

Don't get me wrong; I fervently hope the Dems win Congress, and I am not the least conflicted about that desire. The Democrats have by no means won the right to lead, but Republicans long ago forfeited that right. Slowing the race to dictatorship is a worthy (though insufficient) goal all by itself. My point is that we shouldn't expect the impossible, and should realize that no matter what the results are on November 7th, we're still in for a long, hard slog, and will not have the luxury of thinking the mission has been accomplished.

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