Friday, November 21, 2008

Change is in the Air

Nancy Pelosi and other leaders in the new Democratic government have been very quick to announce an intention to "govern from the middle." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has recognized that the Democratic landslide "was not a mandate for a party or an ideology," and Barack Obama has admitted that "many of our options have been diminished because of the downturn in the economy." This could be an attempt to bring back to earth Democratic expectations, which have been soaring as high as Obama's rhetoric since the election, or a legitimate attempt to avoid the sort of over-reach that lead from Republican Revolution to Reign of Terror in just a few short years. Either way, it's a good sign.

Unfortunately, it seems all this is nothing more than some cheap talk. In a surprising House Energy and Commercy Committee coup, California Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) usurped Committee Chair John Dingell (D-MI), the incumbent chair who also held seniority over the former Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (and who, in that post, led the steroid witch hunt in baseball). As Congressional Quarterly states:

But Waxman’s message did resonate with many other Democrats, especially younger and newly elected lawmakers, as well as those who want to push an aggressive agenda on environmental and energy issues. Environmentalists have criticized Dingell, an ardent defender of his home state’s auto industry, for moving too slowly on legislation to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.
And Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

His focus was on change, the fact that we need to move forward aggressively.

It is possible that this election was a fluke. It was only last month that Mr. Dingell proposed legislation addressing climate change -- an indifference I am not troubled by, but that would certainly place him far to the right of the new majority on what they perceive as a critical and urgent issue. Nevertheless, it is possible that we have a far more aggressive Left coming our way, one that is bitter about the Bush Administration, galvanized by their recent, sweeping electoral victory, and hungry to use the financial crisis to forge a massive insertion of government into American lives. This latter possibility is one we must be prepared for.

No comments: