Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Busy day tomorrow

Wednesday should have a lot of fireworks, thanks to several big items all landing at the same time:

Looking for Ms. Goodling
An immunized Monica Goodling testifies before the Senate about the prosecutor firings. Source have indicated her testimony won't implicate Alberto Gonzales, but then that's what they said about Kyle Sampson -- and his testimony turned out to be another body blow for the embattled AG.

The problem is that, based on what we already know, Gonzales is either mendacious or incompetent. Goodling's testimony can only show one of three things: that Gonzales was more involved than he has admitted, which means he lied to Congress; that Gonzales was totally uninvolved, which indicts his management ability; and/or that the firings were indeed heavily political, which discredits both his judgement and his truthfulness.

War funding
The newest version of the war-funding bill could hit the floor of Congress, with the possibility that the most antiwar Democrats ultimately will vote against it now that the timetables have been stripped out. There still should be enough votes to pass it (with Republican support), but it raises all sorts of tantalizing possibilities.

One is merely theoretical: contemplate what would happen if the war funding didn't have enough Democratic votes to pass without timetables, and didn't have enough Republican votes to pass with them. What would happen?

The other is more concrete: in order to govern, will Pelosi and Reid find themselves increasingly making common cause with Republicans against the more extreme elements of their own party? And will that work, or simply lead to a fracture in the Democratic ranks?

And consider what a Democratic fracture might mean. With the Republicans themselves fractured (united only by the need to stay relevant by thwarting Democratic moves), Congress could find itself in an unstable situation, where each party's leadership is less relevant and instead ad hoc groups of legislators coalesce around individual issues.

That's not going to happen, of course, at least not to a large degree. Party connections are too ingrained, too convenient, too powerful. And the leadership controls the movement of legislation, so they'll never get too irrelevant (though there was a time when committee chairmen were highly independent and arguably more powerful than the Speaker and her deputies). Still, if two fractured parties mean more individual initiative by Congress members, that would be all to the good in my book.

Anyway, tomorrow should be a fascinating day.

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