At no other time in President Obama’s tenure has the gap between the White House and congressional Democrats been so great. They are openly ridiculing his Iran policy. Today a bipartisan bill in the House Foreign Affairs Committee was introduced, and it “condemns the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and calls for sanctions on Russian officials, banks and other state agencies,” a sign of frustration with the inert administration.
On the domestic front, House and Senate Democrats didn’t bother defending the president’s budget. Then, despite the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to speed the confirmation of Obama administration nominees, the Senate flat-out rejected a controversial Justice Department pick. The Post reports:
Several Senate Democrats joined with Republicans in voting against Debo Adegbile, whose nomination was adamantly and vocally opposed by conservatives due to his participation in an appeal filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal — an internationally known prisoner convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
The vote was expected to be close — with Vice President Biden on hand to potentially cast a tie-breaking vote — but the final tally was 47-52 in opposition to the appointment.
The White House is playing to its far-left base while Senate Dems’ fury is bubbling to the top. (“A senior aide to one of the senators who voted against the pick said several offices were ‘very angry’ with the White House for moving ahead with the Adegbile nomination even though they knew it created an unnecessarily uncomfortable and politically treacherous vote for several vulnerable Democrats in tough reelection races this year.”)
The question remains whether, as the election draws closer, Senate Democrats will not just chew around the edges of the president’s agenda but start to take out whole bits — on Iran, Obamacare, energy, jobs and taxes — in an effort to save themselves in November.
That may occur, but the danger for Senate and House Republicans is the urge to stand pat, as amusing as the Democratic crack-up might be. At least in the House, the GOP conference is trying to mix small, people-friendly efforts (e.g. lowering home heating oil prices) with major policy initiatives like the expected Obamacare alternative. And in both houses Republicans are rallying around a more robust position on Russia, taking advantage of the president’s widely ridiculed efforts to “reset” Russian relations.
The media love a “Republicans divided” meme, but now it is the Democrats who are scrambling while the Republicans on the Hill are, for now, working on remaking their image as the party that actually cares about voters (e.g. relieve them from the burden of Obamacare, lower energy costs). The election is eight months away, eons in politics, but if this keeps up Republicans will be in a position not only to win the Senate but also to make some strides in recasting the party and presenting an agenda to voters. Then again, they might get distracted, beat up on each other and overreach. With Republicans, you never know.