Why voters don't like Congress

Republicans obstruct, Democrats flail, and Bush gets his way. What's to like?

By Joan Walsh
November 10, 2007 5:38AM (UTC)
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The one thing that cheers me up on a bad news day like Friday, after the Senate worked late Thursday to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general and endorse torture, is to go to Salon in the morning and see that Glenn Greenwald has already said everything that needs saying.

It's unbelievable to me that Democrats let Mukasey through, and I think the four presidential candidates who didn't return for the vote -- Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden -- should have to answer for their absence. Sure, their votes in opposition wouldn't have stopped Mukasey, but their support for a filibuster might have, and I can't believe there was no serious discussion of drawing a line in the sand on this issue.


It's probably no coincidence that a CNN poll also released Friday found record-high levels of dissatisfaction with Congress, with 53 percent of voters saying they don't believe incumbents should be reelected. Democrats fared better in the poll -- if elections were held today, 53 percent of those surveyed would back Democrats compared with 42 percent who'd vote Republican. But it's hardly a resounding mandate. The Democrats consistently look inept because even while holding a narrow majority, they're outmaneuvered politically by the Republican minority.

Especially in the Senate, Democrats have allowed key Iraq war measures to be "defeated," even though they win majority support, because they adhere to the notion that legislation needs filibuster-proof 60-vote support -- when Republicans clearly don't. Meanwhile, Republicans trick Democrats into repudiating their base with idiotic votes like the one denouncing MoveOn for its Gen. Petraeus ad. It's depressing. Nancy Pelosi is promising to introduce the toughest Iraq war legislation yet next week, but does any Democrat have a strategy for making it more than talk? I haven't heard one.

I'll be on CNN's "Out in the Open With Rick Sanchez" at 6/9 p.m. talking about the new congressional poll data.

Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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