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January 25, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-25

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 5A

014
New majority,
;snen's guilty pleasures are new politics?

espite the promise of a
new year, Americans
entered 2007 with
what can only be described as
a tremendous hangover. Unfor-
tunately, this collective head-
ache has nothing to do with a
fondness for Patron. The vio-
lent and corrupt cocktailserved
up in 2006
by the Bush
Admin-
istration
- with the
help of the.
Republican
Congress
- proved a
disagree-
able mix AMANDA
for many
Americans. BURNS
The
November midterm elections
were transformed into a ref-
erendum on the war in Iraq,
congressional scandals, an
exorbitant budget and ulti-
mately, President Bush. In
the end, voters rebuked it all,
adoptingthe general consensus
that anything is better thanthe
status quo.Republicanblunders
had more to do withthe change
in congressional majority than
Democratic achievements did,
but regardless of the cause,
Democrats have two years to
plead their case to the public.
The first half of 2006 was'
marked by a general lack of
outrage, which is as a testa-
ment to the power of fear. The
Bush Administration constant-
ly played the political version
of the Kevin Bacon game, six
degrees of separation - every
policy decision can be linked
to terrorism in six steps or
less. officials peddled images
of Iraq as a breeding ground
for terrorism, neglecting that
American military misman-
agement created the havoc
necessary for terrorist organi-
zations to gain influence.
As summer drew to a close,
however, voters were tired
of both wartime rhetoric and
government corruption. They
began to signal a desire for
change. Republican incum-
bents tried to distance them-
selves from Bush, but most
made their move too late. With
the help of Jim Webb's late
victory in Virginia, Democrats
clinched the majority in both
houses of Congress.
Jan. 4 markedthe beginning
of the 110th Congress. Demo-
crats took the opportunity to
bring their extended families to
Washington for photo-ops and
press conferences. Those vot-
ers who worried Speaker of the
House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
would be too liberalto assume a
leadership position were surely
placated by the sight of her
holding her infant granddaugh-
ter while she took her oath.

Although the 100-hour
campaign launched by Pelosi
is predictably behind sched-
ule, the new congressional
power class has a passion that
seems on the verge of combus-
tion - a grade of passion that
can only be exhibited by those
who have toiled as the minor-
ity position for years.
Over the next few weeks,
Democrats will test their new-
found strength. They have
already introduced a mini-
mum-wagehikeandaproposed
cut in college loan interest
rates. The creation of a global
warming committee - much
to thedismay of the automobile
industry and oil conglomerates
- shows a renewed interest in
environmental issues.
But it wont be long before
the spirit of cooperation prom-
ised by both sides after the elec-
tion will be put to the test. The
president's proposed funding
increase for Iraq will not only
pit Bush against the Democratic
leadership, but will test Pelosi
and President Pro Tempore
Robert Byrd's ability to keep
their owncaucus in line.
The question of Democratic
cohesiveness was raised even
prior to election day. It became
clear the party would be deal-
ingwithitsfairshareofpolitical
mavericks. Under the guidance
ofSen.ChuckSchumer(D-N.Y.)
the party label was extended to
pro-gunandpro-lifecandidates
in order to secure Southern and
Midwestern districts. Demo-
crats finally realized that tak-
ing back Congress necessitates
flexibility.
While the new Democratic
caucus may seem too variant to
function, those willing to look
beyond wedge issues will find
a group of legislators commit-
ted to addressing social-wel-
fare issues. Although Iraq will
certainly maintain an elevated
importance in 2007, expect to
see it balanced against domes-
tic issues like health care and
education.
JamesMadisonstatedinFed-
eralist51, "Youmustfirstenable
the government to control
the governed; and in the next
place oblige it to control itself"
Although Madison opposed
political parties, divided gov-
ernmenthas become the voters'
response to governments that
refuse to restrain themselves.
The next two years of divid-
ed government may be the
nastiest show of partisanship
in a decade, and both sides are
aware their performance will
affect that the '08 presidential
landscape. The 110th Congress
will be rife withlarger-than-life
personalities and subtle compe-
tition. Let the games begin.
Amanda Burns can be reached
at sammylyn@umich.edu

*MOST LIKELY
TO BECOME
PRESIDENT
Republicans
Sen. SAM BROWNBACK (R-Kan.)
With his recent fact-finding trip to
Iraq and public objections to Bush's
military surge, Brownback is signaling
to voters that he disagrees with the ad-
ministration's military policies. During
the primaries, voters will have to de-
cide if his new dovish stance is enough
to make up for his initial support of the
war. Don't be surprised, however, if his
social views become a campaign issue
- he opposes abortion even in cases of
rape or incest, a platform that may hurt
him in the primaries.
Sen. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.)
McCain's appeal to independents and
moderate Democrats makes him a for-
midable opponent in any presidential
race. His military experience - he was
a prisoner of war in Vietnam - fund-
raising abilities and campaign finance
reform initiatives are just a few of his
oval office-worthy traits. But his con-
sistent support of Bush's policies in
Iraq - including his compromise on
the use of torture on prisoners - may
threaten his presidential ambitions.

Democrats
Sen. HILLARY CLINTON (D-N.Y.)
Although some fellow classmates
cringe at the mention of her candidacy,
Clinton will be a major contender for
the 2008 Democratic nomination. In
light of her successful Senate term and
recent swing to the center, she is not
to be underestimated. Although her
staunchest opponents write her off as
a polarizing opportunist, Hillary's sup-
porters seem ecstatic at the prospect of
having another Clinton in the White
House.
Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-Ill.)
Although it's not usual for an under-
classman to win this particular superla-
tive, obama seems unafraid of his own
lack of experience. His coming-out
party - the 2004 Democratic National
Convention - instantly sparked talk of
a 2008 presidential nomination. And
why not? Armed with first-rate oratory
skills and an idealistic vision to change
tlse face of Anerica, obama may he the
alternative voters are looking for.
Sen. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-Del.)
There is something to be said for ex-
perience. Currently serving his sixth
Senate term, Biden heads up the Sen-
ate Committee on Foreign Relations.
While there is some speculation that
his senior status will hurt his bid for
the presidency, he doesn't seem too
concerned. He officially announced his
intention to run for president on NBC's
Meet the Press on Jan. 7.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Although the chatter of the newly elected and appointed fills the halls of
Congressional High, it's important to remember those who are no longer
present. Whether they were expelled, graduated or dropped out, classmates
can't help but wonder, where are they now?
Disclaimer: We heard these rumorsfrom afriend's roommate's cousin

Former Rep.
TOM DELAY
(R-Texas)
After watching the "per-
manent majority" hehelped
create end insNovember, the
former congressman now
runs a blog for the few peo-
ple who continue to support
him. Also, Delay recently
proposed drawing "fairer"
property lines in his neigh-
borhood. He now has a
backyard golf course.

Former Rep.
MARK FOLEY
(R-Fla.)
After resigning from Con-
gress in disgrace because of
his affinity for male pages,
Foley checked himself into
a substance abuse program.
At least now we know he
won't be drunk when he IMs
young boys. Always comput-
er savvy, his recent down-
loads include blueprints of
the Neverland Ranch.

Former Sen.
RICK SANTORUM
(R-Pa.)
After being the butt of
a Tony Soprano joke and
being made a mockery of in
his re-election effort, San-
torum was spotted during
a casting call for the final
season of "The Sopranos."
Hey, fugettaboutit, the man
has six kids to feed - one of
the perks of natural family
planning.

Former Sen.
GEORGE ALLEN
(R-Va.)
After narrowly losing in
his re-electioncontest,Allen
is considering following in
his father's footsteps as an
NFL coach. If his coaching
abilities are anything like
his political wit, his teams
will peak in the beginning
and self-destruct at the end.
The Miami Dolphins are
said tobe interested.

Former Sen.
LINCOLN CHAFEE
(R-R.I.)
After he was removed
from office despite being a
liberal Republican, Chafee
returned to Providence and
joined the local chapter of
Democrats Anonymous.
He is currently working
the 12-step program, which
includes buying a Prius for a
friend and distributingcon-
doms to high schoolers.

Contributors: Sam Butler, Ben Caleca, Whitney Dibo, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman and John Stiglich

I

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