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Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

Democratic leadership has lost its way

Q: With the economy slowing again, scores of nominations awaiting confirmation and major issues such a climate change and immigration unresolved, Congress has left town for its traditional 6-week August recess. Is that smart leadership? At what point should leaders upset well-established routines to signal that business-as-usual is no longer acceptable?

The failure of Congress to deal with climate change and immigration, among other challenges, is not due to its being in session too little of the time, but to the nature of those issues and the mood of the country.

The president and the overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress have lost the mandate they were handed two years ago. They lost that mandate because Americans are far more interested in the economy than they are in climate change and immigration, and to the extent that they do care about those two issues, a majority opposes the administration's positions on them.

So the Democratic leadership in Congress does not want to force its members, already in trouble at home, to cast more unpopular votes, and has decided that those members are better off out of Washington.

The best solution, of course, would be a Congress in session dealing with private sector solutions to the recession in a manner appealing to a majority of both parties, and perceived by the public to be constructive. That approach, however, has so far been foreign to the the White House, and seems unlikely.

By Slade Gorton

 |  August 17, 2010; 8:48 AM ET
Category:  Congressional leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: When to call all hands on deck | Next: Why not a ten week recess?

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