Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unsolicited advice for our Congressional Republicans

The fivethirtyeight blog imagines a Socratic Dialogue with Republicans returning to Congress. Wyoming has three of them, including a newly elected RepRep in Cynthia Lummis and Sen. Barrasso, elected for the first time after being named to fill Sen. Thomas’s seat when he passed away in office. Sen. Enzi is the elder of the bunch, returning to the Senate for his third term.

They have their work cut out for them. Wyomingites bucked the Obama tide, joining forces with their brethren and sistren in Utah and Idaho in the West and in Alabama and Mississippi in the South. The Congressional Republican bloc now is Dixie, the Great Plains, and the Northern Rockies. With notable exceptions. No more "Solid South," with Florida, North Carolina and Virginia all turning blue in 2008. In the Rockies, Colorado and New Mexico voted overwhelmingly for Obama, now making up the Southern Rockies a blue bloc of its own. Montana voted big for Obama, thus squeezing Wyoming between the Greenies in the south and the Missoula Mafia in the north. A subversive liberal element has taken over Omaha to our east, insinuating a splash of blue into "Big Red" Nebraska.

While Wyoming is a big square state with muscular borders, it’s still feeling the Democratic pinch.

Who knows what our Congressional delegation is thinking. The people have spoken! We voted 2-to-1 for McCain-Palin so we will pursue the strategies that they so successfully outlined in their campaigns. If only someone could tell us what that what those are. Legalize shooting wolves from helicopters? More tax cuts for the rich? Invading foreign lands? Drill, baby, drill?

Fivethirtyeight offers some advice:

Imagine for a moment that you are a Republican Congressman. I know, I know -- it hasn't been easy lately. Thank G-d you've been on vacation. Tried to avoid the constituents. Too depressing to go to to the office. Hell, too depressing to go to Applebee's. At least you won re-election. And, boy, that Blagojevich stuff was fun to watch! But you're going back to Washington next week, and you've got to start thinking through this stimulus package thing.The first thing you'll need to recognize is that public opinion is running against you. The public doesn't think about the stimulus as being analogous to the bailout. They can differentiate spending on highways or airports or solar power grids from spending on Morgan Stanley. CNN's new poll has the public backing it 56-42. Not overwhelming, but pretty solid. And that number isn't liable to move in your direction, when the Democrats have Barack Obama on their team and you've got Mitch McConnell.

Fact is, you're not going to prevent a stimulus bill from passing. The House is a lost cause. Obama's walking on water right now, and even most of the Blue Dogs come from states that he won. He's not going to lose more than a handful of Democratic votes. Plus, certain of your "friends" -- moderates, blue state types -- are going to vote for the stimulus. The best you could probably do is limit the Democrats to about ~240 yea votes in the House, still plenty enough for passage. More likely, they'll be in the somewhere in the 290s or the 300s.

In you're in the Senate, of course, you could hope to mount a filibuster. But even if you could keep Snowe and Collins and Specter in line, which you probably can't, that is a dicey proposition. This is because the Obama administration will play the Emergency! card. The public is scared, and they want action. If you try to filibuster the stimulus, the Democrats will scream Emergency!, and they will frame your actions as dangerous, and maybe even a little unpatriotic.

Plus, Obama will get a lot of help from the stock market. Equities are very jumpy right now, and they are assuming that the stimulus will pass (see, for instance, the big run-ups achieved in the past month by the steel industry). Were the stimulus
to be significantly threatened by your filibuster, the market might dump 900 points in a day. That'll break your filibuster within 48 hours, and you'll be duly embarrassed in the process.

Good stuff. To read the entire post, go to

Note to Wyoming's Congressional delegation: we will be watching your every move. When I say "we," I'm referring to the state's progressives -- all three of us. There used to be another one, but he moved to Omaha.


Anonymous said...

Keep watch, keep shining the light, Mike. That's what it takes.

Happy New Year to you!

jhwygirl said...

Oops. That was me.

Michael Shay said...

You are so tricky.

Happy New Year to you, too. This is the year of big changes yet to come.