Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's Good That Republicans Must Adjust To Democratic Control Of Congress

I confess to mixed feelings about the Democratic takeover of Congress. I was thrilled when I saw Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, the first woman to ever become Speaker of the House, at the podium this week with a flock of children and grandchildren, as she assumed her responsibilities. The number of women in the House has steadily increased and has now reached 74 in the 435-seat House chamber, so it's high time a woman reached the top most post.

But when Pelosi joined Sen. Harry Reid, the new Senate majority leader, in trying to head off President Bush's projected increase of troops in Iraq, I didn't agree with them. The President is the commander=in-chief, and as long as he's in office, within limits, he has most rights to conduct the war as he wishes.

Still, Democratic input is good. It is good that the Democrats will now have some influence over war policy, because despite anti-war feeling on the Democratic side, it will be better for the country in the long run if the Democrats have some responsibility for a war that affects us all.

It's going to require an adjustment of thinking to figure out just what "some responsibility" will mean.

There is a short, but amusing, story in the L.A. Times this morning by Noam Levey, about the tribulations of Rep. David Dreier, who is from Southern California, as he settles into a minority role on the House Rules Committee, after running the committee with an iron hand during the years of Republican control.

Dreier all of a sudden has become an exponent of openness, and is now criticisizing the Democrats for doing some things on the Rules Committee that he used to do, such as banning some amendments on the House floor.

Levey quotes Rep. Alcee Hastings, the Florida Democrat, as saying of Dreier, "He is the only person in this chamber who can take a position directly contradictory to the one he took a few minutes earlier with a straight face."

I suspect it's going to take Dreier a while to adjust to the new order. In my contacts with him over the years, he has not proved to be very elastic in some things.

But both Dreier and the system will adjust. One of the glories of American government is that occasionally the voters do perceive it's time for a change, and act on it. This lets fresh air into the system, and brings along younger generations, which is a very good thing.



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