According to numerous
columns and commentaries (echoed by grumbling Republicans), Tom Daschle really, really has his work cut out for him.
Yes, the Dems may have wanted the Senate leadership and they may be giddy at the moment. But now Daschle faces the challenge Trent Lott's been dealing with: how to run the Senate with a slender one vote margin, how to stop the opposing party from gumming up the works with procedural shenanigans, and most importantly how to get things done.
Simply put, this is a moronic analysis of the current situation.
Daschle will certainly find his task challenging. But several factors make it far easier for the Democrats to run the chamber than the Republicans.
First, are the Republicans really going to bring the chamber to a halt with procedural delays? That's what they seem to be threatening here unless all nominations are allowed to go to the full Senate whether or not they're passed out of committee.
But this is surely an idle threat: it's the Republicans who need the trains to run on time in the Senate, not the Democrats, because it's their president who's trying to move his agenda.
If the Democrats shut down the Senate with their majority control they might arguably be in for a backlash from angry, anti-gridlock voters.
But if Republicans are the ones doing the obstructing, would that really be such a bad thing for Dems? That shuts down the Bush agenda and leaves the Republicans taking the blame. That's not a threat; for the Democrats that's having their cake and eating it too.
On the 'getting things done' front, things are also very unequal. Democrats aren't really in a position to get much of anything done, period.
Anything they pass on their own votes in the Senate can easily be vetoed by the president. And the Republican House obviously isn't going to help much either. So 'getting things done' isn't really in the cards for the Democrats. Their effective power with control of the Senate is to bring up popular issues which Republicans and the president feel the need to opppose: minimum wage, campaign finance reform, a real patients' bill of rights, prescription drug coverage, etc.
In other words, don't believe the hype: for the Dems, taking control of the Senate is every bit as good a deal as it looks like.
P.S. Next up, just what the hell is up with Arlen Specter?