The Clinton experience also shows how limited Congress' investigating power is. Bush can easily stall any Democratic fishing expedition for documents or other proof of Republican malfeasance on the war or anything else. Clinton's stalling tactics on Whitewater and other Republican investigations show the White House exactly how to do it.
Secondly, it is very unlikely that Democrats will get control of both the House and Senate, and there isn't much you can do with just one house. Ronald Reagan had to contend with a Democratic House for all eight years of his presidency, and it was not a serious hindrance to his ability to govern.
Furthermore, Democratic control, if it happens, is likely to be by the skin of their teeth. Effective control may rest with the few relatively conservative Democrats who have a record of cooperating with Republicans on many issues. In other words, the Democrats will have their hands full just keeping all their members on the reservation and preventing defections to the Republicans on key votes.
Finally, the current Democratic leadership is not really up to the job of leading a serious challenge to Bush and the Republicans. I don't know any Republican who doesn't give thanks every day that Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Rep. Pelosi are the Democratic leaders. They are so ineffective that they really do half the Republicans' job for them.
More than likely, not much of anything will change if the Democrats get control of the House or even if they get the Senate, as well. Presidents seldom get much of anything accomplished in their last two years anyway, and there is no reason to think that Bush is an exception. There is simply no time left to do very much except try to clean up the unfinished business. That won't change even if Republicans keep control.
It's inevitable that over the next year more and more attention is going to be focused on the 2008 presidential election. Members of both parties are going to be looking to their nominees for leadership and direction. What is really going to matter is control of Congress in January 2009, when the next president is inaugurated. Between now and then, Congress will just be treading water regardless of party control.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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