David Weigel's Laughable Lame Duck Congress Prediction

UPDATE: David Weigel responds below.

It's the season of good cheer and if you want a really good belly laugh then check out David Weigel's August prediction in Slate that the Democrats in the lame duck session of Congress would NOT attempt to ram through legislation in the final days as their term winds down. Here is Weigel proving he is something less than another Nostradamus with his August assertion that the conservative suspicion at the time that Congress would attempt such a maneuver was really nothing but silly political paranoia:

...The latest attack comes from Republicans who demand that Democrats promise not to 1) call a lame duck session after the election or 2) pass anything substantial if they do call it.

Yeah, such a silly notion. Only one problem for Dave. That is exactly what did happen which is why Weigel's elaboration now makes for such great unintentional comedy:

This just isn't going to happen. On Tuesday, in an attempt to debunk the lame-duck panic, Politico's Jonathan Martin discovered, in plain sight, "a host of moderate Democrats who will be on the ballot in 2012 and aren't going to have any more appetite to take a difficult vote." Another factor that hurts the Democrats—one that didn't hurt Gingrich in 1998—is the Senate's method of installing new members. The winners of elections in Illinois, Delaware, Colorado, New York, and West Virginia will be replacing appointed senators, and their terms will begin right away. We won't have Roland Burris to kick around anymore, but Democrats might have to deal with a Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who'd be as likely to support card check as he'd be to emigrate to Luxembourg.

Republicans realize this. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who runs the ahead-of-the-curve Republican Study Committee, will keep pushing to forestall a lame-duck session. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is promising to get a vote on Price's plan. But the office of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who'd have the most to lose in a lame-duck session—the House has basically passed everything Democrats want already—confirms that a lame-duck session is on the calendar and likely to be bland. Republican aides I talked to admitted that the lame-duck session's agenda was likely to be noncontroversial and would probably handle whatever routine business that the blundering 111th Congress couldn't finish in September.

Weigel leaves us laughing with his final observation about how silly it is not to trust elected officials:

Seriously, we're having a fight about this. A general slack in the trust people have in government is at play here—it's not hard to convince people that Congress is being gamed. And that's manifesting in the way liberals have come to view the slowness of the Senate, and the way conservatives have come to view just about everything in both houses.

Hey Dave! Please make sure that any explanation about how spectacularly wrong your prediction and observations turned out to be starts out with the word "Oops!"

UPDATE: Dave Weigel has responded to your humble correspondent:

P.J. Gladnick thinks he has a "gotcha" here.

It's the season of good cheer and if you want a really good belly laugh then check out David Weigel's August prediction in Slate that the Democrats in the lame duck session of Congress would NOT attempt to ram through legislation in the final days as their term winds down. Here is Weigel proving he is something less than another Nostradamus with his August assertion that the conservative suspicion at the time that Congress would attempt such a maneuver was really nothing but silly political paranoia Obviously I love admitting that I'm wrong, but I'm not here, and I'm not sure Gladnick actually read my article. When Newt Gingrich and other conservatives demanded that there be no lame duck session, it was because they expected Congress to ram through a few specific, massive, unpopular bills, with the votes of retiring members who no longer had to face votes. I'll quote Tim Cameron, spokesman for Gingrich's American Solutions, from August: Gingrich was worried about "the clear indications Democrats have given that they would be willing to use the lame-duck session to pass bills that they cannot defend in an election: cap and trade, card check, tax increases, etc." Cap and trade, card check, and tax increases. Remind me which one of those has passed or is going to pass in the lame duck? Or look at the list of Democratic priorities FreedomWorks put in an anti-lame duck peitition.

1. Pass the cap and trade energy tax hike
2. Slap American taxpayers with another “Stimulus” bailout
3. Pile on more tax hikes to fund their socialist agenda
4. Allow the death tax to come back at 55%

None of that happened. I was told in August that the lame duck would "probably handle whatever routine business that the blundering 111th Congress couldn't finish in September," and that was a little off -- Congress was left so much unfinished business in September, like the tax cut extensions, that the work is a little more than "routine,". But Congress is only handling issues with supermajority public support, like Don't Ask Don't Tell, food safety, and START. The only immigration-related bill it dealt with was DREAM, which died as expected, and was definitely weakened by Tea Party opposition. (Mickey Kaus has a good rundown on why it died.) And the irony is that a cancelled lame duck would have results in a temporary tax increase at the start of 2011, before Republicans could hash out their own bill. That was a showdown a lot of conservatives wanted, but it was rarely implied in the "just don't show up, or Reid will pass card check" pledges.

Um, Dave, could you try to be just a bit less disingenuous? Your clearly stated premise was that there would be no attempt to pass MAJOR legislation during the lame duck session. Omnibus Spending Bill? Major but fortunately pulled but not for lack of desperately trying by Harry Reid. Glad to see you admit that there was an attempt to pass the DREAM act which was also a MAJOR piece of legislation. DADT repeal? That could also be considered MAJOR legislation as is the ratification of the START treaty. And what was with all the recent hoopla over Harry Reid's threat to keep the Senate in session through Christmas and even past the New Year? Did we just dream that?  And, yes, I actually  did read your August article which included this link to to Representative Tom Price's blog in which he accurately expressed fears about the lame duck session which actually did come to pass:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently made a vow to a large gathering of liberal activists that should have every American concerned:

"Frustration with the Democratic Party was a major theme during the four-day event, where progressives voiced their loss of patience with those in power for not doing enough to make major policy changes. … 'We’re going to have to have a lame-duck session,' Reid promised. 'So we’re not giving up.'"

Leftists do not think ObamaCare’s unconstitutional mandate to buy insurance went far enough. They do not think the failed $862 billion stimulus created a large enough deficit. They do not think Democrats have done enough to “change” America into an economically and militarily weak cradle-to-grave welfare state. They want more – and Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi are planning to give it to them in a lame duck session of Congress.

And that is exactly what happened in the lame duck session when Reid and Pelosi attempted to ram through a whole host of legislation. Or were we all just dreaming the past couple of weeks? Don't try to Weigel out of it, Dave. The Democrat Congress attempted to do exactly what Congressman Price feared which was to try to ram through MAJOR legislation during the lame duck session. You are really trying hard to avoid saying..."Oops!"

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.