Democrats may think they’ve won something Tuesday night.
Oh don’t get me wrong, control of the House is better than not having control of the House. But they are about to be hit with the “McCain” problem and don’t realize it yet.
When control of a body is close—and 25 votes in the House is close—real power no longer resides with the majority, but with the tiny minority who can derail votes by either sitting them out or siding with the other side. Remember the Senate vote on Obamacare repeal? Remember John McCain’s “thumbs down?”
Or how about the vote on then Judge Brett Kavanaugh when it came down to the final confirmation? It all eventually hinged on a dispeptic, bitter, alienated Arizona loser and an out-of-the-mainstream Republican liberal. Yes, they made the right decisions, but it should never come to that with a “majority.”
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The Democrats are about to learn there is a spider in their birthday cake. I cannot tell you the characteristics of this spider—whether it is the far-left lunatic fringe of the Democrat Party (no, I’m not repeating myself) or whether it might be a cadre of “somewhat” moderate/centrist representatives who just want to get reelected. Either group could seriously disrupt any Democrat agenda, if they manage to actually come up with something besides “Impeach!”
That said, Democrats are well-known for their iron discipline. In the 2009 Obamacare fight, Obama managed to bully more than half a dozen (supposedly) “pro-life” congressmen into supporting the health care bill. They all had to know they were committing political suicide, and all lost their seats. But Pelosi is not Obama, and it remains to be seen if, on a major issue where she leads a majority she can in fact bully her whackadoodle caucus.
Moreover, even in her sagging mental state, Pelosi has to know that nothing the House passes has a remote chance of gaining Senate support unless it is, well, reasonable. That is a foreign word to this crop of Democrats but we shall see.
Meanwhile, ballots are still being counted and re-counted around the country. In Arizona, over half a million votes are yet to be counted with Martha McSally (R) holding a slim lead over her Democrat opponent. Based on where the votes have come from, I think McSally will emerge the winner. If so, my senate projection of “4-7 pickups” will be barely reached. But for the Republicans, this was a mammoth blown opportunity. John Tester has no business ever winning an election in red Montana; in Ohio where the Republican congressmen held their seats and Mike DeWine won the governor’s race comfortably, Jim Renacci could not defeat Sherrod Brown; and in West Virginia, the amazing Joe Manchin hangs on like Tom Cruise in a Mission Impossible opener, clinging to a sheer cliff wall without breaking a sweat.
Even so, Republicans swapped out four Democrats and a neverTrumper Republican for solid Trump supporters in Indiana, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Dakota. And looking ahead to 2020, the Democrats know they are already sitting on one sure loss in Doug (“I didn’t get near no school yard”) Jones.
At any rate, Pelosi can spend two years attacking Trump and ensuring his reelection or she can craft some kind of useful legislation that adds to Trump’s luster and . . . ensures his reelection. It’s a great problem to have.