Friday, November 24, 2006

Carnival of Divided Government SEPTIMUS - Tryptophan Hangover Edition

Welcome to the seventh edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - originally billed as The Special Turkey Edition. However, since we are a little late, and Turkey Day has come and gone, you may prefer to consider this the more accurately named Tryptophan Hangover Edition. In either case, as explained previously, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration, in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series.


In the Carnival of Divided Government SEPTIMUS - Tryptophan Hangover Edition we select volunteers and draftees from both the blogosphere and mainstream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to use the words "divided government" or "gridlock" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to my endless confusion, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their submissions.

Although Americans traditionally dine on turkey during the Thanksgiving feast, it seems that since the election, many bloggers have chosen a steady diet of...

Sour Grapes.

Jenna sets the tone with "DOA" posted at Right off the Shore, saying, "I have very little faith anything productive or beneficial will take place. If we couldn't get it done with a supposedly unified government, how will we with a divided government?"

Well, Jenna if you look into a little history, you'll find that Divided Government is actually the usual way our country has "got it done". This is true for most productive reform legislation that lasts longer than a single administration. Unified government legislation will often last unscathed for only as long as does the single party control that passed it. Watch what happens to Medicare Part D over the next two years.

In a backhanded manner, Moonage in his post "Pelosi now ENDORSES the culture of corruption" at Moonage Political Webdream, finally acknowledges that the determining factor of the 2006 midterm politics was NOT local, and the national preference for a divided government WAS an important factor saying:

"That folks, is what you get with your 'divided government' as an only test of why a candidate should be elected. People accused Bush/Rumsfeld of wanting to be Big Brother, now you're seeing it in action. If media asks no questions, the politicians will never tell lies. That folks, IS Big Brother. Not one media source has asked Pelosi why she endorsed Murtha while persecuting people like Delay, who actually was investigated LESS than Murtha, as her example of the "culture of corruption". Murtha IS the culture of corruption the same as Delay was. Pelosi now endorses that culture of corruption and not one media source could care less. Do you all feel better now?"

Umm, yes I do, Moon. Thanks for asking. But you are still not getting it. One benefit of divided government is specifically to not have to pay much attention to what politicians of either stripe SAY, but to look at what they actually DO when placed by the voters at each others throats in a divided government. That is kind of the whole point. So regardless of what Nancy Pelosi or Denny Hastert say or don't say, right now neither the ethically challenged Hastert, nor Delay, nor Murtha are going to be in a position of leadership in the new Congress. And yes, I do feel much better about that, as should you.

While Moon opines on the sour flavor of the grapes offered by ignorant voters like me, Captain Ed finds that it is the Republican leadership that left a bitter taste in his mouth. This from an interview with the new Senate Republican minority leader in "A Chat With Mitch McConnell" posted at The Captain's Quarters:

"He seemed eager to use the divided government to pressure for better fiscal discipline, but gave us few concrete points to consider. Once again, I'm reminded that the GOP really has not decided on who it is after the midterms, and while McConnell was a lock for Minority Leader (no one ran against him), it would have been far better for the Republicans to discover themselves before holding these leadership elections."

Ed further rues "The Play The GOP Left In The Locker Room" saying:

"... this plan shows that Pelosi and her fellow Democrats will not get everything wrong in this session. The plan to hold extended debate on these initiatives, one at a time, is nothing short of brilliant -- and it will serve as a constant reminder of the opportunity that the GOP let slip away."

True. But don't worry Ed, divided government will now put it right.

We also note the recent phenomena of blogging Democrats, who (having advocated for divided government prior to the mid-terms) must now choose between consistent application of the divided government objective by supporting a Republican President in 2008 -or- exposing their true partisan proclivity (DWSUWF believes it is too early in the 2008 election season to use words like "hypocrisy" no matter how applicable). Some of these blogger are apparently foregoing a Thanksgiving turkey to instead...

Eat Their Own Words.

Most blatant of this genre, is William Brennan who first asserts "I Have No Choice" posted at Bill's Blog on Western Civilization and Other Trivial Matters, saying,

" own logic and tens of thousands of my own words will make it impossible for me to share in the joy of Hillary, Al or whatever other champion the Democrats choose when the results of the election of 2008 are made known... by my own reckoning that since both Houses of Congress are now solidly in the hands of Democrats, I have no choice but to support Bill Frist, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or whatever other defender of Intelligent Design is anointed by the GOP to extend its lease on the White House."

Fair enough, but Wild Bill then proceeds to disingenuously explain that one need vote for divided government only when an undivided government exists. Apparently unconvinced by his own unconvincing argument, Wild Bill subsequently follows-up with another post claiming "Consistency is the Hobgoblin..." and therein floats yet another unconvincing rationalization:

"The bottom line is that while guilty of overzealous preaching on the benefits of and the need for divided government, my pleadings for such division cannot be made in a vacuum. We voters must balance the obvious benefits of divided government with the nature of the times, the likely tendencies toward abuse of power by one branch over the others, as well as the weight of the merits of the programs and the perceived talent, and character of the candidates. Even while admitting bias toward divided government this should not bind us to voting for a party or candidates whom we believe to be inferior in talent, character, or objectives."

DWSUWF, a Registered Democrat wrestling with the same issue, reached a different conclusion in "2008 Election Prologue - Check your assumptions" and "Libertarian swing vote backs Chuck Hagel", our own humble contributions to this carnival.

John Henke, a 2006 divided government advocate also takes note of this emerging divided government narrative, in "Feeding the Machine" at The Q and O Blog, and asking a rhetorical question:
"I'm interested in the libertarians who denied being "liberals" or even "Democrats" but who believed it was important to punish the GOP and to bring back divided government. They got it. So now — being libertarians, opposed to the overweening State — they'll turn their fire on the incoming operators of the machinery of the State, right? ... it looks like we'll have plenty more opportunities to determine whether the anti-corruption dissidents were actually anti-corruption, or merely pro-Democrat."
John is close but missing the bullseye. This is not about whether Democrats in power are subject to the same criticism from the same sources as Republicans in power. It is about whether those of us advocating a Democratic vote for Congress in '06 to secure divided government will now advocate a Republican vote for President to secure the same in '08. The question is whether the "parting on the right" that put the Democrats in control of Congress, will now be "parting on the left", to keep the Republicans in the White House. That said, this narrative theme will certainly keep the divided government meme in the forefront of political discussion into the 2008 election. A good thing.

More in keeping with the season, we have a number of apres-election posts that are simply...

Giving Thanks for Divided Government.
Cicero shouts "Three Cheers for Divided Government" posted at To The People, while quoting from Steve Chapman's excellent column "Welcoming the Divide" in The Washington Times:
"There is a spring in my step and a song in my heart this morning, because the election is over and my party won. Not the Democrats, and not the Republicans. No, the party that deeply distrusts both Nancy Pelosi and George W. Bush: the Divided Government Party. "
Digby at Hullabaloo claims the mainstream media is "Having Too Much Fun" with divided government, and quotes the National Journal column "Majority Drool" as evidence:
"Obviously, a divided government is full of the tensions that produce headlines. But a Democratic Congress is also anthropologically different from a Republican Congress -- messier, louder, looser-lipped, more colorful, newsier, and, for the media class's purposes, more fun..."
Akusai offers congratulations and a warning to Democrats in "An Open Letter to the Democratic Party" posted at Action Skeptics, saying, "This post deals with my advice to Democrats after yesterday's midterm election coup that resulted in a nice divided government."

Madeleine Begun Kane offers a poetic allusion to divided government in Haiku For A Former "Genius" posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness offered here in its full and complete 5-7-5 glory:

Dream of Bush’s Brain:
Permanent Majority,
Surgic’ly removed.

Wenchypoo, submitted two posts from her Mental Wastebasket, neither of which mention the crucial keywords that are the criteria for inclusion. But upon a close reading, both posts are directly addressing concerns that divided government may solve. In "Midterm Elections and Your Wallet" she explains exactly why divided government will be beneficial over the next two years without actually mentioning "divided government." It is a mystery how she does that. In "The Politician Primer (L-O-N-G)" post she discusses "How to be the most politically-effective voter" articulating exactly why partisan voting fails to deliver expected results for either Republicans or Democrats. BTW, she claims this is a long post, but I found it to be concise and compact by the standards of a typical DWSUWF rant. From that post - this gem:
"The four steps to a political career and life:
1. Getting power through the vote
2. Holding onto power by increasing it or consolidating it
3. Defending and consolidating power
4. Getting re-elected

Lather, rinse, repeat."
Exactly. The only constraint on that cycle, is an opposing political party with power and ambition of their own. Divided Government.

Among the mainstream media columnists who have weighed in on our brand spanking new sparkly shiny divided government are three of our favorites, all of whom are also carrying the torch for the hopeless Unity08 effort - sigh - nobody is perfect.

Dick Meyer
, aCBS News editor writes in his column "Smackdown! By Independents & Moderates": "
President Bush may have run into another historical buzz saw this year: the voters' predilection for divided government. Since Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, there have been only ten years in which one party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress. "
David Broder at the Washington Post explains how this divided government will be immediately productive in his column "Facing up to reality ":"
Pelosi's performance at her debut as leader of a congressional majority was pitch-perfect, calm, confident and blessedly free of the screeching tone of some of her stump speeches. She is leading a formidable political force in this revived Democratic Party. Bush has every reason to treat her with respect -- and a degree of deference. He is right in thinking that they could well find common ground on immigration, education and perhaps even entitlements if they tried."
Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice rounds out our Divided Government "Gang of Three" with his recent post "Pelosi Working To Steer Democrats To Center":
"This is the key test for the Democrats. The American public voted for divided government once again. Are the Democrats going to act like responsible guardians of the voters' concerns and provide serious, vigorous Congressional oversight, alternative policies that will increase substantive policy debate, and a higher-profile other-alternative media voice now that they have the Congressional power soapbox? Or will the Democrats quickly become like kids who were kept off candy being given the keys to enter the candy shop whenever they want?"
We will see soon enough. I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Finally, the longstanding (two month) tradition at The Carnival of Divided Government, is to include one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgement of the many off-topic submissions received. The winner for this edition:

Jack Yoest presents Donald Rumsfeld's Rules: Advice on Government, Business & Life posted at Reasoned Audacity, saying, "Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the president and do wonders for your performance."

Why not. After all, we won't have Rumsfeld to kick around anymore.

With that we conclude this edition.Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The next edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government OCTAVUS - Special Winter Solstice Edition, to be posted precisely at 16:22 PM PST on Thursday, December 21 (00:22 UST Friday December 22). Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

If you enjoyed this carnival, you shoul also check out the Carnival of the Vanities: The Thanksgiving Edition hosted at Silflay Hraka, Raging Rino Sightings - The lazy Thanksgiving edition hosted at Right Thoughts, The Carnival of Economics and Social Policy hosted at The Boring Made Dull, and The Carnival of the Capitalists, hosted at, all of which have seen fit to include recent DWSUWF contributions among many other fine posts.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.


Wenchypoo said...

Wenchypoo here--

Thank you for including my submissions into your carnival, even though I didn't follow the rules of mentioning "divided government" specifically. I was writing for the benefit of everyone, and submitted to many political carnivals without really sticking to anyone's submission guidelines. The ability to write my way out of a wet paper bag is my only real skill--other than that, I'm a housewife who never finished college.

It just seems to me that there are a lot of wombay voters out there, and they tend to use the voting booth as their own personal bully pulpit, and that isn't what voting is for--we're never going to accomplish anything when people are wasting their vote bashing candidates over the head with their own agenda and votes AGAINST rather than FOR. The wombatishness only gets worse with each successive generation, and I felt it was time to actually explain voting, politicians, and what it all means to John and Jane Q. Public.

Not only do we supposedly have "activist" judges in this country, we also have "activist" voters, and the polls are NOT the place to vent anger and frustration! Voting will NEVER become the positive strategy for serious, long-term change and legislation until we refrain from negative voting.

That said, divided government serves as an additonal layer of checks and balances, otherwise known as "gridlock," which can be a GOOD thing--stupid abysmal legislation has a lot of opposing mud to slog through before it has a chance to become law and ruin lives with unintended consequences.

The reason why I said my one post was L-O-N-G was because I pre-write them on MSWord--anything that goes into 3 pages I consider long. My readership is mostly RSS feeds being received at work, and workers don't have a lot of time to sit and absorb my posts,so I like to warn them accordingly.

In wrapping, I once again thank you for including me in your carnival. If I have another political ephiphany, I'll be sure to submit--rules be damned!

W-"Refuse to accept conventional reality as an answer!"

mw said...

We appreciate the contributions, Wench - umm... I mean - Ms. Poo.

I guess I have never actually explained the reason for my Carnival "rules" and this is as good an opportunity as any to do just that. At last count, Technorati is claiming there are some 55 million blogs out there and Blog Carnival has indexed many thousands of carnival editions. My hope is to distinguish the needle of this blog from that very large haystack by maintaining a specific focus on this narrow and, IMO, important topic.

Promoting and documenting the benefits of government that is divided, checked, and balanced between the major parties is the very reason for the existence of the blog. The associated carnival is intended to highlight others who are writing and thinking about the subject. If I dilute the carnival with off-topic submissions, neither the carnival nor the blog will be distingusihable from the other excellent political carnivals (many of which I also make submissions).

Requiring the use of the word "gridlock" or "divided government" is just an easy way to make that distinction, and further serves our objective of promoting the meme by expanding the search engine universe of "divided government" sites.

Thanks again for the submissions and the comment.