I just remembered something I wrote back in September. Tuesday made it possible to answer some questions I asked clear back then. I had said that “between the presidency and the two houses of congress each of the major parties should be in control of at least one of the bodies – thus forcing the various governmental bodies to compromise in order to make things happen.” We now have Republicans in control of the White House and Democrats in control of the House and the Senate.
I had asked, “would this administration be better if their party did not control both houses of congress?” An early analysis of that question came in the New York Times today. From the article:
‘You’re seeing the George Bush who has always been adept at playing the hand he is dealt,’ said Charlie Black, a Republican strategist with close ties to the White House.
Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman and lobbyist, put it this way: ‘I’ve never thought that George Bush was a rigid ideologue; I’ve never thought that he was a hardened partisan. He is a businessman first, and in business you don’t spend a lot of time crying about changed circumstances. You figure out quickly how to adapt, and that’s what he’s doing.’
Certainly this does not answer whether this “M.B.A. president” can make things work with a Democratic congress, but we’ll find out.
I also said that “those in the House have some incentive to do something because they will face re-election in another two years.” The New York Times article adds another incentive for Democrats to work with Bush:
‘Their whole theme has been the do-nothing Congress,’ Mr. Black, the Republican strategist, said. ‘Now, if they get in there and make themselves vulnerable to that charge, it hurts them in ’08. He knows that they have an incentive to get things done, and he’s going to take advantage of that.’
If anything is to happen, the president must move toward the center. I still hope, as I said in September, that this will force the Republican Party to come back toward the center. Having lost the House and the Senate, I hope they will have the motivation to do so. They can hardly pretend that this was just some small setback.