100 Days on Stage; the Democrats' Political Theater Gets Bad Reviews

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

100 Days on Stage; the Democrats' Political Theater Gets Bad Reviews


Byline: Gary Andres, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The new Congress recently passed its 100-day mark - an anachronistic anniversary concocted by the media to measure legislative performance. The phrase started as a way to describe the time-frame in which Democrats in Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted the first parts of the New Deal, but it gets liberally applied now anytime a new Congress begins. But if FDR and his Democratic allies smashed opposition like a steamroller, today's new legislative majority is more akin to a legislative weed-whacker.

It's unfair to compare FDR and his allies in Congress to the current majority due to a host of institutional differences. Still, this is a good point to take stock and assess what Democrats have done to date and where they might move next.

Unfortunately their early track record is not pretty. Moving the country forward seems more like a foggy campaign promise than a clear operating principle. Democrats are more interested in easy political theater than forging hard bipartisan consensus. A better moniker for the past three months: 100 days on stage. But acting without accomplishments is getting bad reviews.

Democrats worship political numerology. They campaigned last fall on a "Six for 06" agenda. These half-dozen bills were then jammed through the House in "The First Hundred Hours." Yet their numbers don't add up to accomplishments. The Los Angeles Times also notes the Democrats' reliance on sloganeering with integers. "But when it comes to how many of their top priorities have become law," they wrote earlier this month, "a different number stands out: zero. None of the six bills that the House Democrats passed in their initial legislative juggernaut has made it to the president's desk." And a new poll by the same newspaper reveals nearly six in 10 respondents could not name anything important the new Congress has done.

The Democrats' early steps are a classic case of legislative overreach, which always leads to congressional underperformance. A closely divided Senate and a Republican president guarantee that bills driven through the House with slim partisan majorities are on a dead-end street. So far, most of their major initiatives appear headed down that same road.

But the new majority probably has to experience a learning curve before it changes directions. …

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