With George Allen and Conrad Burns conceding defeat, the Democrats now control both houses of Congress.

The repercussions of their victory are still being felt. Besides Donald Rumsfeld resigning, Ken Mehlman is quitting as head of the Republican National Committee and it looks like John Bolton will fail to get confirmed as UN Ambassador.

Taking the Senate completely changes the balance of power. Controlling the House would have been big in its own right, allowing Democrats to advance their own proposals and quash Republican efforts. Owning the Senate magnifies that power, of course, allowing them to actually pass legislation and send it to the president’s desk. But the real biggie is a power unique to the Senate: confirmation of presidential appointees. With Democrats taking the Senate, Bolton was finished. And now the Dems will be able to put pressure on Bush’s judicial nominees for the final two years of his term.

What will it mean? That depends on how Bush, Republicans and Democrats proceed. In a world of rational actors they would horse-trade, swapping confirmation of Bush judges for passage of Dem legislation, while Bush wields a veto threat to mold that legislation as well as win passage of bills sought by the Republican minority.

In a world of egos, stubbornness, partisanship and payback, the Dems will marginalize the GOP the way the GOP marginalized Dems, the GOP minority will pull out all the obstructionist stops they used to decry and Bush and the Democrats will take turns quashing each others’ initiatives.

Continued at Midtopia.

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