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THE FREAK SHOW HAS BEEN TO THE MOUNTAINTOP! Hillary’s office makes a disclosure—and gets out in front of the freaks: // link // print // previous // next //

DRUM DOES THE RIGHT THING: Kevin Drum did the right (and we’ll have to admit, the obvious) thing in response to Paul Krugman’s recent column; he compiled the recent historical data about congressional voting. Do Democrats need to out-poll Republicans by seven points just to break even in the House? Kevin says he can’t see the pattern. Then he says this: “I'm mostly posting this in hopes that someone who knows a lot about this stuff will see it and chime in. I'd be interested to hear some expert opinion about whether there's more to this than meets the eye.”

We hope that happens too. As we noted in April and again last week, we don’t know if Krugman’s math is right on this. (We tend to trust “Krug” about such matters—but we don’t assume that he’s always right.) On the other hand, Morton Kondracke made the same observation last week, attributing his claim to Democratic strategists (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/11/06). Kondracke is often full of old shoes on Special Report, where he serves on the “all-star” panel. But there was no party advantage to this statement. It would seem that someone in Democrat Land thinks that this pattern obtains.

Do Democrats face a “structural disadvantage” in House voting? When Krugman first made this claim in April, it produced the standard response—total silence. Like Kevin, we hope that some of them “experts” step up and clarify this point. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/16/06. Inquiring minds want to know.

LET’S PLAY TWO: While we’re at it, let’s cite a point from Krugman’s most recent column. Why should voters favor Dems this fall? To provide oversight, Krugman says. He offers some miserable numbers:
KRUGMAN (10/16/06): The current Congress has shown no inclination to investigate the Bush administration. Last year The Boston Globe offered an illuminating comparison: when Bill Clinton was president, the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether Mr. Clinton had used the White House Christmas list to identify possible Democratic donors. But in 2004 and 2005, a House committee took only 12 hours of testimony on the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

If the Democrats take control, that will change—and voters should think very hard about whether they want that change. Those who think it's a good idea to investigate, say, allegations of cronyism and corruption in Iraq contracting should be aware that any vote cast for a Republican makes Congressional investigations less likely.
Bill Clinton’s Christmas cards? Massive oversight! Abuses that massively harmed U.S. interests? Sorry—not quite so much.

For ourselves, we’ll seize on this gruesome example to make a suggestion we’ve made in the past. Wouldn’t the public interest be served if both parties had subpoena power—the power to perform oversight? In our current arrangement, you can conduct investigations if you have 51 senators—but not if you only have 49. But why can’t both parties have this power? There’s no need to restrict this to the majority. Why not give the losers a chance?

THE FREAK SHOW HAS BEEN TO THE MOUNTAINTOP: Hillary Clinton’s office has made a fascinating disclosure about the origins of her first name. This is precisely the type of inane pseudo-issue which has driven the burgeoning part of our politics which Harris and Halperin describe as the “Freak Show” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/16/06). We’ll wait to see how the Freak Show responds, then offer our own further comments.

By the way, we’ll guess that this statement clinches one point: Hillary Clinton is running for president. Through bitter experience, Dems are learning how to get out in front of the freaks.

THE FREAK SHOW SAT ON SANTA’S LAP: And it wasn’t just Clinton’s Christmas card list! On Christmas Eve 1999, a “Freak Show” denizen named Al Kamen penned a review of Al Gore’s Christmas card! And what a surprise! The card showed how phony the phony Dem was, Kamen told his sugar-plummed readers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99). In those days, we Dems were still finding out how freakish the Kamens could be.

Kamen, of course, writes for the Post. Yep! John Harris’ paper was a very large part of the endless Freak Show of the Clinton-Gore era. It’s a fact he and Halperin work rather hard to obscure in their rather slick book.