Monday, January 24


Senate Democrats Speak of Slowing Confirmation Votes.

Hey, we may be seeing signs of a true "loyal opposition" --

"The honeymoon is over and we are now in the full throes of our new marital arrangement here," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, after he and other Democratic leaders introduced a priority list on Monday sharply at odds with that put forward by Republicans.

While Republicans listed changes in Social Security as their No. 1 objective, Democrats made enlarging the armed forces and providing new military benefits as their top goal, rejecting the idea that the retirement program needed urgent repair. A poll of all Democratic senators by the Democratic staff of the Senate Finance Committee found none who supported diverting Social Security tax revenue into personal investment accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's initiative.

"This isn't a crisis, so why should we be lurching forward?" asked Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Democratic leader.

Democrats conceded that the new 55-45 split against them in the Senate put them at a severe disadvantage in pushing their legislative ideas or derailing those they did not like. And they acknowledged that, in the end, Mr. Bush would get his cabinet choices.

Yet they also demonstrated a willingness to use procedural weapons to make their points, even at the risk of being branded obstructionists.

UPDATE: After speaking to multiple Republican voters (mostly corporate executives) since the election, I'm convinced that many of them voted for the Shrub in a knee-jerk reaction, out of a habit of voting for Republican candidates. They neither support Bush's policies nor his ideology, and are in fact frightened to death that the next four years will see a continuation or escalation of his foreign policy adventurism. They don't even back his domestic policy agenda, fearing his fiscal policies will cause greater damage to the trade balance, grow deficits wildly, bow to right-wing fundamentalist Christian causes they do not support, and further endanger the prestige and influence of the U.S.A. abroad.


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