The Power Has Finally Shifted

It snuck up on all of us — the Republicans, the Democrats, the media and President Bush. The power shift the midterm elections promised has finally taken place. Everyone moved offices and got new jobs, even Donald Rumsfeld was fired, but until yesterday months had passed without the substantive shift in political direction that would actually change the war in Iraq.

The surprise Senate vote last night, to approve a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, delivered to the Democrats what they had hoped for all along but had been unable to grasp. Less than a week ago it seemed the majority couldn't possibly forge the impossible coalition of angry liberals and nervous moderates. Just yesterday morning it seemed the Senate Democrats couldn't come up with enough Republicans to overcome losing two of their own. But their victory literally came from behind, and unless the surge in troops suddenly produces miracles, there are more victories for Democrats and more difficult days for Republicans on the horizon.

Even if Bush vetoes the withdrawal plan attached to his war funding the majority has finally spoken in both houses, the GOP lockdown has ended and Bush can no longer count on the protection from his party on Capitol Hill that he has enjoyed since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the gavel. Polling now shows that a majority of Americans favor a withdrawal from Iraq. It also shows that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knew that when he decided to stop blocking the debate. How long before House Republicans know it too?