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11 July 2008

Castration jokes aside, how much power will Obama lose as president if the Democrats gain enough seats to form a veto-proof Congress? How much power does Hillary stand to gain?
Why would either of those things happen?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 11 July | 11:45
After the Bush lawyers have so thoroughly rigged the system in favor of the Executive (e.g., signing statements), does Congress even have power anymore?
posted by Atom Eyes 11 July | 11:59
Why wouldn't they? Congress has to pass the bills that give the President his power, and if the Dems form a veto-proof Congress, they could pretty much ignore the President's wishes, Dem or no. Obama is far from being an influential Senator; he is mediocre at best, and his popularity among all americans is already doubtful. His healthcare plan would be stillborn if it could not get of committee, especially if Hillary ends up chairing that committee. So in that event, whose plan is most likely to pass?

As for the possibility of Dems actually gaining that many seats, it is within the realm of possibility. However, even if they don't, a coalition with centrist Republicans is also feasible, even at the expense of losing the most left-leaning Dems.

People want change, and the Dems know it, but that does not mean that that change has to be Obama's vision. Politicians can sniff out opportunities for a power grab like a hound dog, and such a scenario would entice Congress critters from both sides of the aisle to take a stab.
posted by Ardiril 11 July | 12:04
I'm not sure the party is so uncooperative and anti-Obama as you seem to think it is. I am sure Congress will do what they always do: pass bills they approve of as a group and veto those they don't. I don't think this year is extra-special just because the Democrats might have a good majority in Congress, possibly with the power you mention. Obama is part of the party, some agree with his proposed policies, some don't, but I don't think there is any sort of massive Democratic urge to stop his efforts like you are implying.
posted by rmless2 11 July | 12:22
Clinton won't end up chairing any committees if Obama puts her on the ticket.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 11 July | 12:29
No, not yet, but that can change, as Hillary learned when Bill was President. How many of those who agree with Obama now are just paying election-year lip-service?

Trudat, tps, and I could see him deciding to do that just to keep her out of Congress.
posted by Ardiril 11 July | 12:32
I still think appointing her as a Supreme Court justice (and I know there would have to be a lot of maneuvering to get her in) would be his best bet as a leader and the best thing for the country.
posted by rmless2 11 July | 12:41
Why would appointing a person with no experience as a judge to the Supreme Court be the best thing for the country?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 11 July | 12:44
Why would it be his best bet as a leader?
posted by box 11 July | 12:50
tps: For the same reason as electing someone with so little political experience?

Obama is already perceived as the EEOC candidate by 1/3 of the US, rightly or wrongly, and I have my doubts that even as President he will have the clout to keep from being run over by a Congressional semi. Ordinary people will expect big things from him fast, and his approval will tank if he does not deliver fast. He may have substantial support now, but does he have those people's faith? I have not seen evidence of that.
posted by Ardiril 11 July | 13:06
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 11 July | 13:10
I really, really want to believe that 99.5% of the people here wouldn't even have considered making a castration joke, that it wouldn't even have occurred to them, had this question been posed without that framing.

Yes, I realize this comment is nothing more than troll food, but I just wanted it to make sure it was said.
posted by mudpuppie 11 July | 13:39
I think the food is the troll.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 July | 14:01
It doesn't matter, as long as we end this Republican mess. McCain is unlikely to fix much of what Cheney/Bush have broken. I'm way pissed at Obama for voting for telcom immunity, but it doesn't matter, because almost any Democrat will be so much less evil. I think Obama is smart and has integrity. That will get him quite far. If the worst-case scenario is a democratic Congress, I will be overjoyed.
posted by theora55 11 July | 16:35
It makes no matter. I'm moving to Abu Dhabi anyway (average salaries of $180,000 for the recent college graduate -- tax free!). Besides, those outfits for women are so figure-flattering.

(GO OBAMA! It's gonna be a landslide, I tell ya, a landslide. And no worries, Ardiril. It would be in a democratic congress's interest to have a democratic president do well, so I don't think they'll mind sharing credit on good outcomes, at least; and there's always the ghost of Bush/Cheney past to blame bad outcomes on, for awhile anyway.)

(Perhaps a cabinet post for Hillary, if not VP?)
posted by Pips 11 July | 18:13
Whoever walks into the White House next year (if Bush/Cheney agree to move out - I still have not seen enough to make me confident they will) won't be seeing things auto-reset to 1999. The power grabbed by the President AND Vice President will still be there and most of it will have to be actively given up. I have no doubt HRC would rather be VP than Senate Leader because that is where the power is.

Speaking of running mates, Lindsey Graham WILL be McCain's. He's the only GOP politico I can see who The Powers That Be can trust to hold Johnny's leash the way Dick has held George's...
posted by wendell 11 July | 19:12
And a veto-proof Democratic congress will still include enough Blue Dogs (or is that Red Dogs? Yellow?) and DINO*s to prevent them from pushing anything more progressive than Mr. Obama would approve of.

And yes, I am funkin' crazy. Thanks for asking.

*Democrats In Name Only
posted by wendell 11 July | 19:18
In the Senate you need 66 to have a veto-proof majority. That's ridiculously unlikely. We'll probably have between 54 and 56 Democratic Senators. That's a decisive majority for a lot of purposes, but not strictly veto-proof. (Filibuster-proof, by the way, is 60 or more. It used to be 66 but this eventually resulted in too many filibusters.)

The House needs 290 for a veto-proof majority. I would say the Democrats have an excellent chance of cracking 250 (up from the current 232 or so) but 290 is way out of reach.

Basically this is because district maps are so carefully drawn as to be "safe" for as many incumbents as possible. The remaining competitive seats are too few to make enough of a difference.

Anyway, if we did have that sort of government balance (and it's basically what we had in the eras of Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter -- a near Democratic supermajority), we'd have quite different politics. The Republicans would shoot for the Presidency and we would have Congress vs. the President instead of party vs. party. Even with Democrats, there would be policy divides. Essentially, this would be an environment in which a small group of moderates or conservatives would have great strength, because of the necessity of having them on board. This is the environment in which a small group of Southern Democrats blocked civil rights legislation year after year.

But I don't think that's going to be what we have. I think Obama will disappoint progressives in his first moves, but won't triangulate the way Clinton did. If Hillary does end up being Majority Leader as some have suggested she should be (and I agree she may be a good one), she won't be in the position of blocking overly liberal White House proposals very often. It will be more of a matter of constituencies being served, not ideologies.
posted by stilicho 13 July | 08:01
Broadway = Parkway! || Electronic "stun" bracelets for all airline passengers?