by Jonathan Singer, Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 10:37:38 AM EDT
Republicans have been trying to trot out rather tired attacks that the Democratic Congress has not accomplished much thus far this year (an attack that, of course, overlooks the fact that it has been the Republicans, whether in the Senate or in the White House, who have been obstucting the business of the American people). But if they want their message to percolate down to the masses, they're going to have to make sure all of their troops stay on message, which doesn't appear to be happening.
"[Congressional Democrats have] had a pretty strong quarter," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who praised [the legislation expanding SCHIP] as "creative" and suggested the homeland security bill would pass overwhelmingly. "The first quarter was not so good, and that's why they're not looking so good in the polls, but this quarter is looking very good for them. They can send their members home crowing about their accomplishments, and they've done it in a bipartisan way, which is exactly what they promised to do," LaHood said.
Whoops. And the thing that makes this admission even worse for the Republicans is the fact that it's true. The Democrats in the House have, from day one, been running the chamber in a significantly more bipartisan manner than the Republicans every did during their dozen years in charge. Take a look at some of the earliest votes of the Congress. 299 votes for implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, including 68 Republicans. 315 votes for increasing the minimum wage, including 82 Republicans. 253 votes for expanding funding for stem cell research, including 37 Republicans. 255 votes for prescription drug price negotiations, including 24 Republicans. The list goes on.
And not only are Democratic bills garnering the support of Republican members of Congress, Democratic proposals are finding strong support across party lines within the electorate. Take Iraq, for example. When asked by The Washington Post and ABC News whether they trust Congressional Democrats or President Bush on the Iraq War, respondents overwhelmingly sided with the Democrats, 55 percent to 32 percent. To take another example, the vast majority of Americans -- including a large majority of Republicans -- support Democratic plans to expand SCHIP to provide more children with healthcare.
Certainly there have been a great deal of disappointments this Congress, no more so than on Iraq. Yet at the same time, there have been and will continue to be successes that enjoy support from both parties. Before Congress goes into recess at the end of next week, it will likely send to the President's desk popular legislation finally implementing the vast majority of the 9/11 Commission recommendations (after such a bill had long been blocked by Republicans) and instituting somewhat more stringent ethics regulations. So though he doesn't come out and explicitly state it, I agree with the thrust of LaHood's implicit suggestion that we might see Congressional Democrats' approval rating begin to rise in the not too distant future.