If the purpose of running for office is to acquire power and if the purpose of acquiring power is to do some sort of lasting public good with it, then it would be fair of the American people to expect Pres. Barack Obama’s report card to show significant accomplishments by the time the 2010 congressional elections roll in.

After today’s announcement of Al Franken  as the winner of last November’s Minnesota Senate race, the Democrats now have 60 senate seats and 257 congressional seats, more than enough to push through the Democratic President’s agenda. Any fears of a filibuster have now been eliminated. There is no longer a need to court Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins or any other so-called moderate Republican. The Democrats, if they only allow themselves to agree can now bring Americans single-payer Universal Healthcare, enact proper regulations of the financial industry, withdraw troops from Iraq, withdraw troops from a useless war in Afghanistan, confirm Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and much more…

But I suspect very few of those things will happen. Obama is a serial compromiser and Democrats and Progressives in general relish argument and debate even when it stands in the way of useful  and valuable accomplishments. And that’s probably going to be the Legacy of the 111th Congresss: immense possibilities but very few tangible results. I would love to eat my words in a few months but I don’t think I will.

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Well, another Obama nominee ran into trouble over unpaid taxes. According to the AP, “Former Senator Tom Daschle filed amended tax returns to report $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest.” This is to cover back taxes for 2005, 2006 an 2007. This after he was picked by Obama to head the Health Services Department and once the transition team discovered the discrepancy.  This is the exact same issue that arose for Tim Geithner the now Treasury Secretary. This may be less of an issue for Daschle, a veteran of the Senate that many see as highly competent and a diligent public servant. So I think this issue may be a small setback, but he will be confirmed.

The Obama team is also looking the Commerce Secretary post vacated since Bill Richardson withdrew. Late reports from ABC and CNN are now indicating that Republican Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire is the front runner for the post. If this is confirmed on Monday, it would be a case of really smart politics for the Obama administration. Because the departure of Gregg would force New Hampshire governor John Lynch , a Democrat to make an appointment. With the shenanigans of the Franken-Coleman race yet to be resolved in Minnesota, this will bring the Democrats closer to the filbuster-proof 60 seats.

Stay tuned…

Boy, how  things just tend to happen when nobody is paying attention, huh!

Let’s see, since most of North America took a break to open presents, eat too much, drink too much and generally stay away from anything of importance, the following important things happened:

1- Israel & Hamas decided to start another mini-war

2-Rod Blagojevich gave the finger to the whole Democratic party by nominating Roland Burris to the US Senate

3-Bill Richardson withdrew as Obama’s Commerce Secretary because of corruption investigations

4-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid more or less reiterated his belief that George W. Bush is the worst President the United States ever had.

5-Obama proposed a ginormous stimulus package with a mix of personal and business tax cuts as well as job creating infrastructure programs.

 6-Roland Burris went to the US Senate and was refused a seat

7-Leon Panetta was mentionned as Obama’s pick for CIA chief much to the chagrin of many including Senate Inteligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein

8-Sanjay Gupta (of CNN fame) was floated as a possible Surgeon General of the United States

9-Al Franken almost won a senate seat in Minnesota

What to say about any of these? Well, maybe one word here and there would do for now. We all just got back,right?

On the Burris issue, I would say either way the Democrats play this, they’re in for a lengthy legal battle unless either Burris chooses to withdraw or is somehow “bought out”. But it seems that by all legal accounts,  as the still governor of Illinois,Rod Blagojevic was fully entitled to make the nomination. How this plays politically though,… well,…

On Richardson withdrawing, it is truly sad, because I would have liked him as Secretary of State instead of Clinton. But in politics, illusions tend to be reality more so than in other environments.  And as such, even talk of an investigation was enough to prevent Richardson from coming back to Washington. Too bad. Hopefully Obama gets a second term and he could serve then.

On Israel and Hamas, I have nothing to add other than this is just another battle in a long war that will never end unless a President of the United States is willing to stake his presidency on resolving the conflict.

Let’s hope Obama is thatPresident.

Apparently according to Al Franken’s people, they are now ahead by 22 votes in his race with Norm Coleman for a Minnesota Senate seat. This is according to http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

Stay tuned…