This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," December 15, 2007.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," congressional crack-up. They came in united and promised to get things done. Why are Democrats in meltdown mode?
Primary showdown. With less than three weeks to Iowa, Obama has erased Hillary Clinton's lead. How much trouble is she in and what can she do to get out of it?
What would you pay for a Harvard education? A look at what's behind skyrocketing college costs, after these headlines.
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
When they took control of Congress in January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to work together to push through an ambitious Democratic agenda. A year later, the Democrats appear to be in full meltdown mode with intra-party feuds raging as unfinished work piles up.
Joining us is "Wall Street Journal" columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, opinion.com columnist John Fund, Washington columnist Kim Strassel, and editorial board member Steve Moore.
Kim, I want to start with you by reading a couple headlines from the newspapers this week. One from the "Washington Post," "Democrats blaming even other for failures." And from the "Wall Street Journal," "Intra-party feuds dog Democrats; stall Congress." What is going on?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I don't know. I think this will end up in some future government course entitled "How to blow your first year 101." This is really bad.
What is remarkable is how far they have fallen. Last year, they ran a smart race. They won both Houses of k. They had has chance to come in. They promised to work with the other side and get stuff done. Instead, what they have done is at every opportunity they have crafted legislation that caters to their most liberal base. It means it hasn't had a shot of passing the Senate or of overcoming a presidential veto.
The most remarkable example of this is the war. Republicans are un- united on this when the Democrats took over...
GIGOT: A lot of them had real doubts about the war. And yet — how many votes have they had about 60 some votes? 63 votes.
STRASSEL: 63, only one of which passed. The rest were done for show. It waste add lot of time. None of it was designed to pass. And it has left them with nothing to their name at the end of the year.
GIGOT: A list of things that haven't gotten done, John, the 2008 federal budget, even though we are in the budget year; farm bill; energy bill; the alternative minimum tax patch for 2007 hasn't passed, even though tax returns will start to file in January. The health care legislation, Funding for the troops, the wiretap bill. What is the root cause of this?
JOHN FUND, OPINION.COM COLUMNIST: The Democrats promised a policy Congress, instead they have delivered a press release Congress. I think Nancy Pelosi has a lot of the blame here and so does Harry Reid. They both came in with enormous expectations on the part of their liberal base. They catered to those, as Kim said. And in Nancy Pelosi's case, she surrounded her receive of a clique of close-minded allies, and she shut out the moderate Democrats on the energy bill and various other things. So her caucus has been increasingly leaning left, which makes it easier to unite the Republicans in opposition.
GIGOT: The Democrats would say this isn't our fault. This is the president. He is vetoing it. And those obstructionists in the Senate, the Republican — Republicans had 49 votes and they can block something because we need 60 to get something done. Don't they have a point there?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: They have a point. They have made the point. But it is an increasingly weak one. Can you only run at the war so many times and fail at the votes when you control Congress.
We talked here about the liberal base. We have to understand it is not as though they are trying to please some people out there in the country. The left wing blogosphere has had a material direct effect on the way Democrats run their elections.
GIGOT: Driving the agenda.