Archive for Friday, December 28, 2007

Pelosi exaggerating Democratic success

December 28, 2007


— After one year of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, public approval ratings for Congress have sunk below their level when Republicans were still in control. A Washington Post poll earlier this month put the approval score at 32 percent, the disapproval at 60.

In the last such survey during Republican control, congressional approval was 36 percent. So what are the Democrats to make of that? They could be using this interregnum before the start of their second year to evaluate their strategy and improve their standing. But if Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House and leader of their new majority, is to be believed, they are, instead, going to brag about their achievements.

In a year-end "fact sheet," her office proclaimed that "the Democratic-led House is listening to the American people and providing the New Direction the people voted for in November. The House has passed a wide range of measures to make America safer, restore the American dream and restore accountability. We are proud of the progress made this session and recognize that more needs to be done."

While surveys by The Washington Post and other news organizations show the public believes little or nothing of value has been accomplished in a year of bitter partisan wrangling on Capitol Hill, Pelosi claims that "the House has had a remarkable level of achievement over the first year, passing 130 key measures - with nearly 70 percent passing with significant bipartisan support."

That figure is achieved by setting the bar conveniently low - measuring as bipartisan any issue in which even 50 House Republicans broke ranks to vote with the Democrats. Thus, a party-line vote in which Democrats supported but most Republicans opposed criminal penalties for price-gouging on gasoline was converted, in Pelosi's accounting, into a "bipartisan" vote because it was backed by 56 Republicans.

There is more sleight of hand in her figures. Among the "key measures" counted in the press release are voice votes to protect infants from unsafe cribs and high chairs, and to require drain covers on pools and spas. Such wins bulk up the statistics. Many other "victories" credited to the House were later undone by the Senate, including all the restrictions voted on the deployment of troops in Iraq. And on 46 of the measures passed by the House, more than one-third of the total, the notation is added, "The president has threatened to veto," or has already vetoed the bill.

One would think that high level of institutional warfare would be of concern to the Democrats. But there is no suggestion in this recital that any adjustment to the nation's priorities may be required. If Pelosi is to be believed, the Democrats will keep challenging the Bush veto strategy for the remaining 12 months of his term - and leave it up to him to make any compromises.

An honest assessment of the year would credit the Democrats with some achievements. They passed an overdue increase in the minimum wage, and wrote some useful ethics legislation. They finally took the first steps to increase the pressure on Detroit to improve auto mileage efficiency.

But much of the year's political energy was squandered on futile efforts to micromanage the strategy in Iraq, and in the end, the Democrats yielded every point to the president. That left their presidential candidates arguing for measures in Iraq that have limited relevance to events on the ground - a potential weak point in the coming election.

The major Democratic presidential hopefuls all have their political careers rooted in Congress, and the vulnerabilities of that Congress will in time come home to roost with them. Today, Democrats take some comfort from the fact that their approval ratings in Congress look marginally better than the Republicans'. In the most recent Post poll, Democrats are at 40 percent approval; Republicans, at 32 percent. But more disapprove than approve of both parties.

That is another reason it behooves the Democrats to get real about their own record on Capitol Hill. It needs improvement. And in less than a year, the voters will deliver their own verdict.

- David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


jmadison 10 years, 6 months ago

Politicians lie. Is this just occurring to Broder?

KS 10 years, 6 months ago

Sounds to me like it MUST be Bush's fault.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 6 months ago

The primary caucus approach leaves much to be desired and cost way to much special interest money. What do people in Iowa and New Hampshire know that we don't? What makes this special? There is a lot about the current election system that does not mean much. So who cares what a newspaper thinks about who we should vote for? Why should voters give a damn?

Our choices are being controlled by the special interest political parties,the media and corporate special interest money. How is it all candidates are not allowed to participate in every debate? Why does any candidate stand by this crap? That is why I promote firing 95% of incumbents. Returning the lions share of incumbents over the past 30 years has not made much of anything better.

The news media and corporate america do NOT need to decide who OUR candidates should be for local,state or federal level representation.

The media takes in a ton of cash during our election periods and play a huge role in selecting candidates for all sides of the aisle. Then THEY decide who should participate in televised debates as if no one else matters to the voters. Yes they also seem to decide which issues are important to voters and many times miss the mark. The media has become a large part of the special interest takeover of our process as if they know what is best for all of us. Voters support this takeover by voting for those candidates who also spend the most money and the question is why?

Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths on the 2008 ballot. Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing.

Lets's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : Demand a change on the 2008 ballot.

The big money candidates are more beholden than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 6 months ago

merrill, how many times have you copy/pasted the same text about fairvote & pubiccampaign? You're wearing a hole in the ozone.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

The bottom line is that the Bush presidency and the current Congress are both abysmal failures.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

Staff04, thank you for your continued rancor! I do not hide my distaste for Nancy Boyda and everything she and her husband stand for. She is part of the current worthless Congress. Please read again:

The bottom line is that the Bush presidency and the current Congress are both abysmal failures.

sfjayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Mrs Pelosi will have a tough re-election campaign - the good citizens of her San Francisco district are very disappointed in her lack of results, and will hold her accountable. They were expecting her to tie financing for the war to a fixed timetable for withdrawal, and were also expecting that the house take a larger role in the oversight of this horribly mismanaged war.

It would also have been nice if she had hauled the idiots who got us into this thing before the house to explain how they so terribly bumbled their way into this morass, and to discuss the false reasoning they used to justify invading Iraq.

While she is personally rich (her home is worth way more that $5 Million) she did not profit from the war (like some) nor from the skyrocketing oil prices and equally skyrocketing market capitalization of energy companies over the past 7 years. It would be interesting to see who in and around the administration has an interest in big oil .

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 6 months ago

It would be interesting to see who in and around the administration has an interest in big oil .

With SanFran Nan at the helm, we'll never know for sure. She lacks the backbone to pursuit it.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

NavyVet, how dare you trot out the facts! Shame on you!

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 6 months ago

Dagopman - "the bottom line is that the Bush presidency and the current Congress are abysmal failures"

You nailed it.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

The FACT is that the intelligence of the U.S. and most of the other world intelligence agencies was apparently wrong about WMD's in Iraq. Leaders of both political parties share the blame. As Kozakid has aptly pointed out, leaders of both parties (including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden among other Democrats) had access to the NIE reports and reached the same conclusion as did President Bush (and Denny Hastert, Sam Brownback, etc.). Neither party can claim the high moral ground on this issue.

blackwalnut 10 years, 6 months ago

The so-called Democratic majority in both houses of Congress is nonexistant. A majority of 1 in the Senate, and a majority of less than 2% in the House, is useless.

Until the Democrate have a veto-proof, filibuster-proof majority in both houses, the blame remains with the Republicans who obstruct everything the Democrats try to do.

The Democrats do not have control of both houses - yet.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago


Obstructionism isn't party specific either. Democrats did the same thing to the Republicans when they were in power. Unfortunately its the name of the game.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

Hindsight is a wonderful luxury to have. In the immediate period after 9-11 the senses were heightened as to continued terrorist attacks and overreaction was inevitable. Bush did make mistakes and did the leaders of both houses of Congress- Republican and Democrat alike. Get over it!!! There is enough blame to go around without trying to pin the entire blame on one man or either party.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

Bush was told that the Niger information may have come from a less than credible source; however, Clinton was also warned that lying to a grand jury was a felony and may lead to impeachment proceedings. Neither man exercised solid judgment.

dagopman 10 years, 6 months ago

NavyVet, you are a wise sage. Welcome to this board!

Corey Williams 10 years, 6 months ago

"Bush was told that the Niger information may have come from a less than credible source; however, Clinton was also warned that lying to a grand jury was a felony and may lead to impeachment proceedings. Neither man exercised solid judgment."

Those two statements could only be compared if you believe that Clinton killed thousnds of potential children by staining a dress.

"The Liberals killed Bhutto. Had they not been supporting the terrorists all these years Bhutto would still be alive. Enabling does matter!"

Just like Reagan and Bush 1 enabled Saddam through the 80s?

Everytime some of you people post, the terrorists win.

RonaldWilson 10 years, 6 months ago

I can't believe the media has the ability to totally BS everyone on this issue. WMDs in violation of the UN resolutions were found in Iraq. Just look it up. Here's a place to start:

And , here's an excerpt:

"When former weapons inspector David Kay reported to Congress in January that the United States had found "no stockpiles" of forbidden weapons in Iraq, his conclusions made front-page news. But when he detailed what the ISG had found in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last October, few took notice.

Among Kay's revelations, which officials tell Insight have been amplified in subsequent inspections in recent weeks:

A prison laboratory complex that may have been used for human testing of BW agents and "that Iraqi officials working to prepare the U.N. inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the U.N." Why was Saddam interested in testing biological-warfare agents on humans if he didn't have a biological-weapons program?

"Reference strains" of a wide variety of biological-weapons agents were found beneath the sink in the home of a prominent Iraqi BW scientist. "We thought it was a big deal," a senior administration official said. "But it has been written off [by the press] as a sort of 'starter set.'"

New research on BW-applicable agents, brucella and Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin that were not declared to the United Nations.

A line of unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, or drones, "not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 kilometers [311 miles], 350 kilometers [217 miles] beyond the permissible limit."

"Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited Scud-variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the U.N."

"Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] -- well beyond the 150-kilometer-range limit [93 miles] imposed by the U.N. Missiles of a 1,000-kilometer range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets throughout the Middle East, including Ankara [Turkey], Cairo [Egypt] and Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates]."

What's worse is Bush doesn't have the nuts to stand up for himself and state the facts on what was found. He's totally justified in invading Iraq. Everyone knows that Hussein was up to no good. But, now it's convenient to forget that fact and call Bush a liar. Silly Lefties.

blackwalnut 10 years, 6 months ago

I do believe Dollypawpaw has completely lost her mind.

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