Washington Politics

June 23, 2004

June 23, 2004

I can't remember a time in this town when there was so much political mud wrestling going on. We can't pass any legislation on to the President's desk because inevitably some one in the Senate will object and filibuster. It takes 601 votes to shut down a filibuster and that's almost impossible to get. The rules in the House of Representatives are different. They can limit debate and force a vote. In fact, the House has stacked some 70 bills on the doorstep of the Senate where they just sit there and gather dust.

The Transportation bill, the energy bill with the renewable fuel standard, Tax Relief bills, litigation relieffrom all the costly lawsuits -and on and on. Most of them will not be acted on. It is all about political advantage. That's just a brief glimpse of the gridlock on Capitol Hill. The political stew is ready boiling over.

We have had so much bad news out of Iraq that President Bush's rating on handling the war have plummeted -- the prison torture scandal has not helped him. I acknowledge that what some of our troops did terrible. I don't consider sleep deprivation or humility a person to be a torture. It's not the same as having your head cut off. We had a sad but uplifting week with President Regan's funeral. Now President Clinton's book comes out. I'm not going to read it. 900 pages exceed my attention span. The book reminds everyone of President Clinton's mistakes. It takes the spotlight away from John Kerry. I think it probably helps President Bush.

For weeks, Kerry bashed President Bush about lost jobs and the worst recession since the Great Depression. Now with the explosive

creation ofjobs he has to change his toon.

For weeks John Kerry was courting Senator John McCain as his running mate. That came to an abrupt end last week when McCain and Bush were hugging each other.

Three points I would like to make. First, don't expect the Congress to get anything of consequence e done until after the election. They could just as well lock the doors and go home now.

Second, the two obvious things that will influence this election are the economy and the war.

The economy is in very good shape and that is good for Bush. The war is not in good shape and if it doesn't get better, that's good for Kerry.

Finally there could be some surprise event that we cannot predict that could tip the election.

Stay tuned. Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.