Max Bialystock Democrats

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After the 2004 election, Americans for Tax Reform honcho Grover Norquist drove some liberals batty by proposing a way to bring civility back to the capital.

Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.

Would you have guessed that Democrats like Tony Coehlo would eventually get on board with this? Well, they kind of have.

Indeed, some Democrats worry that the worst-case scenario may be winning control of Congress by a slim margin, giving them responsibility without real authority. They might serve as a foil to Republicans and President Bush, who would be looking for someone to share the blame. Democrats need a net gain of 6 seats in the Senate, and 15 seats in the House. "The most politically advantageous thing for the Democrats is to pick up 11, 12 seats in the House and 3 or 4 seats in the Senate but let the Republicans continue to be responsible for government," said Tony Coelho, a former House Democratic whip. "We are heading into this period of tremendous deficit, plus all the scandals, plus all the programs that have been cut. This way, they get blamed for everything."

As with everything in American life, this can be best explained by an episode of South Park.

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  1. Seems to me that the most politically advantageous position for the Dems would be to win control of the House and Senate by a LARGE margin.

    Now, if the candidates will only convincingly renounce any further gun control legislation. And sign on to a pledge of getting the government out of American’s private lives…well, I see a landslide in the making.

  2. Wait, I’m confused…did ol’ Grover call for neutering/spaying Democrats in Congress? That’s probably the best idea I’ve ever heard.

    So what’s appropriate for Republican congressthings then? Having hot irons thrust into their eyes? Being forced to get horrible facial tattoos? Having their larynxes cut so they have to use those funky voice-box things? Discuss.

  3. So, it’s not important to even *attempt* to stop this crap, it’s just important to keep winning elections? Is government really just a game for these people?

  4. Shem, it’s well-known that organizations tend to lose their focus on their original purpose, and become more concerned with perpetuating themselves, even at the expense of their original purpose. It happens quite often in organizations insulated from competition, like government agencies and unions. So yes, political parties can get so involved in tactics that they can seem to be just playing games.

  5. Shem,

    Sucks to lose your innocence, doesn’t it?

  6. Springtime for Nancy and Hillary
    Winter for Dennis and Bill…

  7. Guess I sort of walked into that one. But it’s shocking to realize that the goal isn’t “getting a hold on power long enough to affect your agenda” for these people, it’s “getting a hold on power purely for the sake of holding power.” How do you represent somebody with a clear conscience when you don’t actually care about their life one way or the other?

  8. How do you represent somebody with a clear conscience when you don’t actually care about their life one way or the other?

    Lose your conscience.

  9. I heard today that the President’s approval ratings are below 50% in 46 states. The trick for the Democrats will be to get their candidates in California, New York, etc. to keep their mouths shut while Democrats in other states try to court moderates and the Religious Left. With Hillary Clinton running to the right of established Republicans in her neighborhood, that shouldn’t be too hard.

    I’ve seen people hand power to the opposition to choke on–in places with coalition governments like France. …but I don’t see how that could possibly work well considering single member districts, etc. …and six months is an eternity in politics, which puts 2008 at eternity times five. Listening to some Democrats talk about poor timing, it sounds like issue envy.

    There’s a certain fatalism among thinking Democrats, I think. They’ve been on the wrong side of history and economics for so long–playing to public sector employees, labor unions, ethnic minorities and secularists. Some thinking Democrats look at their base and wonder how they can win–I think Hillary’s probably showing them the way. …Still, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him a duck.

    P.S. Personally, I still think Hillary probably should have gone to jail.

  10. How do you represent somebody with a clear conscience when you don’t actually care about their life one way or the other?

    Ahahahahahahahaha!

    Sorry, that’s not against you Shem. Well, I guess it kind of is, and I apologize.

  11. Of course, though I’m loath to defend this Congressman, he does have a point. If the Dems retake both houses, they still won’t get much of their agenda done for the next two years, while Bush remains in the White House (assuming he remembers how to veto). Thus, it makes sense to trade two years of little progress, for a better shot at getting control of both Congress and the Presidency in 2008.

  12. I want the Democrats to get a narrow enough majority that they can lose it in 2008, when a Democrat wins the White House.

    If the Republicans held Congress with a Dem in the White House I think they’d recover some of their best instincts.

  13. thoreau:

    That is exactly the scenario I’m hoping for, and also why I wish (as an Ohio voter) I voted for Kerry (incompetant boob he may be).

  14. jf, it wouldn’t have mattered who you voted for, because apparently they don’t know how to count in Ohio.

  15. It’s easy to be the minority, hanging out in the peanut gallery, shouting correct-itudes. Eventually, though, those correct-itudes get you in the majority and then you must deal with the conflict between doing the right things, or at least the things you promised, and the reality of majority-ship. The GOP gained control with such vacuus innanity as “smaller government” and “lower taxes” and “stronger defense,” etc. Of course, now that they’re in, we see bigger – and more intrusive – government, lower taxes, yes, but only on the income of the wealthy while all other taxes went up, and certainly a weaker security position than ever before. So perhaps the Dems would be well-served to stick with the minority through ’08. Let the sleazy cons cannibalize themselves to death. This will make the dems all the stronger come ’08 and keep them at arm’s length from consequantial power until they can get it all at once.

    JMJ

  16. But it’s shocking to realize that the goal isn’t “getting a hold on power long enough to affect your agenda” for these people, it’s “getting a hold on power purely for the sake of holding power.”

    Holding power is the agenda when you get a taste of what that power confers on you (earmarks, to start small).

  17. As a purely tactical matter, Coehlo is probably correct. To paraphrase Clausewitz, politics is war conducted by other means, and if you want to win the war and not just one battle timing is everything. This is why, by the way, I believe Hillary Clinton secretly hoped Kerry would lose. She needed more than four years to reform her public persona but didn’t want to wait twelve years to run.

  18. The thing that seems to escape Coehlo is that you don’t take back the majority when nothing is perceived to be wrong – the incumbents keep their jobs.

    I will say, though, that Coehlo’s scenario is pretty much what libertarians want, too. Split government and thin majorities are supposed to be good for us. I don’t know if I even believe that anymore.

  19. Jason,

    How the hell could you not believe that now? After all that’s happened in the past 5 years? C’mon man!

    JMJ

  20. JMJ:

    I have this nagging feeling that with AARP running around, both parties will wind up with domestic policies that look shockingly similar.

  21. Well, yes, Jason. When it comes to seniors’ issues, regardless of the parties, policy and law look about the same. That’s just the nature of that demographic – they vote. And don’t think it’s just the AARP. People vote their interests, and the Baby Boomers, being a rather selfish and spoiled bunch, promise to make sure they retire in style – on our backs, of course.

    JMJ

  22. It is all about the AARP, JMJ. They will dominate politics until they die off. Other interest groups counter each other and are nowhere nearly as significant in terms of numbers of votes delivered. They have the clout and breadth of concerns to be truly scary.

    If the NRA were running the show, worst case we can all buy guns with no hassle. AARP is different. They will drive the estate tax to be removed. They will drive publicly funded healthcare. They will increase benefits they receive for retirement. They will drive pension reform in their favor. They will govern tax rates.

    They will drive every significant domestic policy, and the rest of us will pay the price. They want the most free stuff and they are the most culturally conservative demographic. Egad.

    The greatest achievement the two party system could ever be associated with would be if somehow the culture war / class war pettiness could manage to drive a wedge in AARP as a voting bloc.

  23. I just realized how sad it is that we have a government whose driving justifications for their ridiculous policies are the saftey of the young and the comfort of the old.

  24. Jason, I think you attributing more to the AARP than their constituents. The AARP is simply the manifestation of the constituency’s desires. Like the UN – it’s just the expression nations therein. The NRA is a little different because they represent a very specific and narrow concern. As for the Estate Tax, I don’t think the AARP really cares about .5% of the wealthiest of the population. Repealing the Estate Tax is just plain stupid. I don’t know if the coming Baby Boomer retirees are going to be all the conservative. We’ll see. Right now, it seems they are. Too bad. Cultural conservatism is a symptom of ignorance and hatred and fear. Not good.

    JMJ

  25. From the article:

    The party would also be under increased pressure to come up with its own solutions to the problems afflicting the country: what to do in Iraq, how to deal with high gas prices and the budget deficit.

    Gasp shock horror!

  26. Paul, yeah, well, with a horrifically moronic electorate that can be swayed with such sleazy worship of ignorance like, “Duuuhhh – he voted for it before he voted against it! DDDDUUUUHHHH!!!!,” the Dems are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Tell the truth with a real plan, or play carefully with the stupid sheep that are the American voters.

    Tough call…

    JMJ

  27. I just realized how sad it is that we have a government whose driving justifications for their ridiculous policies are the saftey of the young

    Ah, if its “for the children” it must be alright.

    and the comfort of the old.

    No matter what their financial status or actual needs are, apparently. Yes indeedy, we need to tax the poorest so we can send checks to millionaires who play golf and tennis all day.

    Outside of preventing physical abuse of a child, and starvation or homelessness of the elderly, the government has no business being involved in our family lives. The ridiculous policies are the ones that go beyond this minimum level.

  28. JMJ,

    I think that their problem is that they didn’t tell the truth with a real plan. They still don’t.

    With a

  29. Evan, are you referring to the Medicare drug plan? I don’t recall the AARP lying about the plan, though I do recall their constituents getting pretty upset over the way the AARP laid down and let the sleazy cons lay out there phony welfare bill that was really just a big pay-out to the pharmies and insurance companies…

    JMJ

  30. Why can’t they use “the guy(s) before me did this” be an exit strategy for Iraq?

  31. Ironchef,

    It’s too late now. We have to make sure things work out at least reasonably well in Iraq before we can just up and go.

    JMJ

  32. It is all about the AARP, JMJ. They will dominate politics until they die off.

    Since they never will die off they will dominate politics forever. As quickly as one generation dies off it is replaced by another. And thus the geezer lobby is self-perpetuating.

    I do not know what it will take for society to get over the geezer sense of entitlement. To my mind it is the most obnoxious thing going.

    My take on it is that with longer life spans and better health it is not unreasonable to expect people to just keep working, if they haven’t saved enough to pay for their own retirement.

    Which is why, of course, I would never consider wasting my time running for office. 🙂

    By the way, I have spent the last eight years putting the regularly received invitations to join the Association of Aged Rich People in the round file. I’m with Jason, this is the worst lobby in the country, and the only one without a significant counterforce.

    Yes indeedy, we need to tax the poorest so we can send checks to millionaires who play golf and tennis all day.

    Kind of says it all.

    Outside of preventing physical abuse of a child, and starvation or homelessness of the elderly, the government has no business being involved in our family lives.

    You would hear few complaints from me if the welfare state stayed within those boundaries.

  33. If the population continues to age, the influence of AARP will only get stronger. The only way to stem the tide would be to increase the birthrate, but we all know how popular that idea is in these parts.

  34. There is another option. . . .

  35. Indeed.

  36. Jersey McJones,

    It appears that lowering taxes has increased government income to such an extent that if the economy doesn’t fall off a cliff in 2007 the income and outgo will balance. There may even be a surplus.

    Since the top 5% pay over 50% of taxes anything that increases their income tends to raise revenue.

    Especially if you consider some economic theorists who claim that tax rates above 20% act as an incentive for tax avoidance.

  37. Especially if you consider some economic theorists who claim that tax rates above 20% act as an incentive for tax avoidance.

    There is certainly plenty of evidence for this in Italy where tax avoidance is a national pastime.

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