The new political reality

Michael Barone sums up the next two years for American politics:

Bush is decoupling himself from the Republican Party. House Republicans, with little chance to affect outcomes, will be mostly ignored, as House Democrats were under Clinton.

Senate Republicans, with the leverage of filibuster threats, will be brought into the loop. But congressional Republicans will be on their own in setting a course for 2008…

…For the next two years, political governance and presidential politics seem likely to proceed on two separate tracks, with little relation between them. House and Senate Democratic leaders may want to avoid confrontation on issues that will put their presidential candidates on the defensive. Bush seems less likely to worry about the effect of his decisions on possible Republican nominees.

That leaves the initiative on setting a post-Bush agenda to the presidential candidates of both parties. They start off closely matched. Pollster Scott Rasmussen, whose final Senate numbers were spot on, shows Hillary Clinton trailing John McCain 48 percent to 43 percent and tied 46 percent to 46 percent with Rudolph Giuliani. Democrats may have thumped Republicans last week, but the political future is very much up for grabs.

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