Towards a Unified Theory of Congress Sucking

I was just over in the Senate gallery watching Russ Feingold address the body (which was pretty much empty, as per usual) in opposition to the FISA re-authorization bill now being brought to the floor for debate.

I was talking with another journalist who covers the hill and we came up with three distinct theories for why this Democratic congress has been so ineffectual

1) Structural impediments: Basically, they have neither the 60 votes in the Senate nor the two-thirds majorities to override vetoes by the President, so they don’t really have much of a choice if they want to pass anything at all.

2) Ideological mushiness: A significant portion of Democrats in the house and senate just don’t really care that much about getting progressive legislation passed and are actually perfectly fine with granting retroactive immunity to telecom companies that spied on Americans or authorizing billions in war spending without timelines for withdrawal. In other words, the Democrats aren’t getting beat, they’re perfectly happy with the outcomes.

3) Tactical incompetence: Democrats are simply less adept at wielding the various parliamentary cudgels they have at their disposal and are simply being out played by their adversaries on the other side of the aisle.

I still don’t know which of these is right.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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