Welcome to the 38th edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - The Special Post-Independence Day Holiday Resolution To Really Get My Act Together With This Blog Edition.
Indeed. An important election is fast approaching. The 2010 election is easily as important as the 2006 mid-terms, and like the 2006 mid-terms, restoring divided government will be an important electoral consideration. It is time to step up my game with this blog. No. Really. I mean it this time.
As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series. In this the Carnival of Divided Government Triginta Duodêvîgintî (XXXVIII), as in all of the CODGOV editions, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream media writing on the single 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 explicitly use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions.
First up, Morton Kondracke of CQ Politics takes a look at a number of recent polls and finds a conundrum - "Voters Are Unhappy but Optimistic - Why?":
"Congress’ approval rating is 22 percent, almost as low as the 20 percent that preceded the Democrats’ takeover in 2006 and the 33 percent that presaged the GOP takeover of 1994. Indeed, voters now marginally prefer that Republicans run the next Congress, by 45 percent to 43 percent. But asked about the parties, voters give a 9-point net negative rating to the Democrats, 35 percent to 44 percent, and a 12-point net negative to the GOP, 30 percent to 42 percent.The bottom line seems to be that an unhappy public is hoping that divided government will put the country back on the right track. But given the inability of Republicans and Democrats to agree on almost anything, there’s more reason to be pessimistic about the long term as well as the short."
Amy Walter is also looking at polls and focus groups for the National Journal Hotline On Call and wondering about the impact of "Independents Souring On Obama":
"The Resurgent memo notes that these indies have "an equal dislike for both political parties," and some believe that "divided government would only lead to more bickering." But, notes van Lohuizen, while these voters may be persuaded to come back to Obama in '12, they are "pretty well lost" to the Democrats for this fall."
Digby at Hullabaloo is quoting Michael Tomsky and engages in some world class hand-wringing over the prospect of divided government in "It Will Never End":
"The real import of this story is this: If the Reps capture the House of Representatives this fall, they will have basically limitless power to keep these things churning forever, turning political horse-trading into potential crimes. They'll hold hearings, issue subpoenas, you name it." - Thomas
"Those who extol the virtues of divided government take heed. There won't just be legislative gridlock. There will be chaos. " - Digby
Metavirus blogging at Library Grape has a question: "Would Someone Who Loves Divided Government Vote for a Monkey?":
"I was pondering today the phenomenon of people who fetishize "divided government" ... I was pondering this because some of the otherwise smart people I know who are like this (you know who you are), are seriously saying that they will vote for a generic Republican this fall, simply in order to try to get us into "divided government". This is even the case where the person believes the GOP is generally bankrupt in terms of ethics, ideas, policy prescriptions, etc. At the end of all this pondering, I was left with a question. If the merits of the people you are voting for in order to make obeisance to the Gods of Divided Government are so unimportant, would you consider voting for party of trained monkeys?"
Joseph Lazzaro is speculating at the Daily Finance about the impact of a potential divided government on investors in "Job Creation: Democrats Have Run Out of Time WithVoters.":
" ...independent voters represent the "swing" vote, depending on whether the party in power is doing a good job and is solving problems. And, as noted, due to the lack of progress at creating jobs, most independents will be voting for a Republican/Tea Party candidate in November. Other issues will play a role, but the lack of jobs and concern about their own job security will be foremost on Independents' minds.... Further, if enough Independents vote for Republicans, the GOP will regain control of Congress, creating a divided government. Some investors argue that divided government is good for the markets and the economy, as it can 'prevent Washington from doing anything' -- which some Americans view as a good thing. The reality, however, is that given the ideological canyon between today's polarized political parties, it's a prescription for gridlock."
To Joseph's larger point, I am reluctant to link longer term market behavior to any policy or partisan mix in Washington. I've not seen any studies that show a believable, statistically significant correlation between long term market direction and Republican, Democratic, or divided governments. That said - in the short term it is less important whether there really is a correlation so much as whether investors believe there is a correlation. My sense is that most investors believe the stock market will benefit from Republicans taking control of either the House or Senate in the fall. With that expectation, rising market could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Richard Lehman, writing at Forbes, makes exactly this point suggesting we "Sell Into Rallies And Thank Politicians":,
"Markets will also benefit from any perception that the Democrats will lose control of at least the House of Representatives. Markets like divided government because it means fewer surprises and fewer policy changes. Use any stock rallies in the next five months to raise some cash since opportunities always come along when market conditions are uncertain."
Ron Replogle is a self-described "perplexed liberal" blogging at One Foot Outside of the Tent, writing a book, quoting Peggy Noonan, and speculating on whether Barack Obama would benefit from a GOP Congress while ruminating on "Liberalism and Limits":
"Even when it enjoys the support of an ideologically congenial congressional majority, a liberal administration lacks the institutional capacity to impose intelligent limits on its own redistributive aspirations. Having to reach an accommodation with an ideologically hostile opponent, as Clinton did with the Gingrich-led House, not only obliged, but enabled, him visibly to define his priorities. That doesn’t mean that what emerges from a divided government will necessarily be sensible public policy. But it will give a liberal administration the “full shape and meaning” that Noonan's looking for."
Matt Mazewski, blogging at the Conscience of a Centrist, worries that Obama is driving the opposition to an ideological extreme in "Moderate Conservatism Goes Mainstream":
"During the 1990's, the nation experienced a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity, largely as a result of divided government. Bill Clinton was forced to abandon some of his more ambitious liberal goals with the election of a Republican Congress in 1994, but so too were the Republicans compelled to lay aside their more ideologically-driven aspirations. Clinton vetoed welfare reform several times before signing a version he approved of, and deals were struck that, while far from perfect, represented true sacrifice in the name of bipartisanship. "
It is not often that one comes across an optimistic libertarian blog post. The tsunami of statism that engulfs us tends to drown out the most hopeful limited government advocates. Bonzai finds the silver lining in "Libertarian Evolution":
"There's a slowly evolving public recognition that government has to be limited, and that individual rights have to be protected -- thus the growth of true independents, people who are distrustful of, and unrepresented by, both parties... If my guess is right, voter turnout will be historically high this year and in 2012. We'll probably have a divided government going into 2011, and if I'm correct, there'll be pressure for government to govern in a more limited fashion because of the unconsciously-libertarian influence coming from the independents. I predict this will be the beginning of a change in direction and the beginning of the end for statism. America became lazy, too trusting of government, and too apathetic because of a sense of powerlessness, but the internet and protest movements have given the public confidence in its ability to create change."
Rojas at The Crossed Pond is feeling nostalgic for the Clinton/Gingrich divided government era in "Your Democratic Congress in Action":
"From a civil liberties perspective, unified government under the Democrats is every bit as bad as unified government under the Republicans. The difference now lies exclusively in the arena of federal involvement in the marketplace. I am becoming increasingly interested in replicating the late Clinton-era split: maybe we can have the Obama administration’s adult approach to foreign policy and willingness to check demented right-wing “compassionate conservatism” in combination with a Republican Congress that will laugh every time the administration pushes for a massive new entitlement."
Traditionally, we conclude this Carnival by including one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgment and proxy for the many off-topic submissions received. Off-topic in this context meaning - no mentions of "divided government" or gridlock.
For this edition we offer Madeleine Begun Kane (who practically owns this spot) as she presents Oily Obstruction posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness:
Although always amusing I don't often agree with Madeleine's liberal poetic stylings, but this gem is an exception. There is a difference between fiscal conservatism and corporate statism. The absurdly low liability cap provided by our government to this corporate giant is exactly what enabled BP's criminal negligence in the gulf oil disaster.
Oily Obstruction (Limerick)
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Liability caps for a spill
Would be raised by the Democrats’ bill.
But Sen. Lisa says “No!”
She’s protecting each co
That drills oil, despite all that they kill.
They’d be hurt by such law, she maintains.
Such indifference to other folks’ pains!
Who will cover the bills
For the victims of spills?
It seems oil cos have Lisa in chains.
With that, we''ll wrap up this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not).
We intend (road to hell notwithstanding) to pick up the Carnival pace in this election year as divided government content is on the increase. However, I am beginning to think that the Carnival form has seen its day as I am relying more on draftees than volunteers in these compilations. I suspect the blog will better serve the cause by posting these divided government links and comments individually as they occur on a more timely basis. For the time being, we'll try both, so look for the next edition of The Carnival of Divided Government Triginta Undêvîgintî (XXXIX)- Special Dog Days of Summer on or about 8-15-2010. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form.