With Arlen Specter bailing his party with plans to run as democrat in 2010, by leaving the GOP he’s presented the democratic majority with great opportunity…for either the ability to push a grand progressive agenda, or to set the party up for one damned, ornery conservative backlash.
With Franken likely to be seated and Specter switching sides, the democrats will have their filibuster-proof majority. And all the more power because of it. Yet with a moderate republican transformed into a mildly conservative, blue-dog democrat, Obama will be facing a congress with a minority party likely to bunker down and move further to the right.
This is fine if Obama can pull off some measure of success in the next few years--especially with the economy. In which case the Republican Party will be rendered even more irrelevant, and the conservative party that emerges from the election will be a much more moderate one. More gay and enviro-friendly, perhaps even in the Huntsman mold.
But if Obama screws up this term, the kill-proof republicans that survive will come out of hiding with mutant-like conservative strength, exacting their small gov’ and family-values revenge with renewed vigor.
Stakes are pretty high, and the temptation to use all that senatorial power must be huge. But if the democrats can’t control themselves and their agenda, they’ll come to regret the ass-kicking they will only have given themselves--just as much as the republicans are still smarting from the last election.
Only time will tell.