Left-Out Legislature

The new Democratic Congress will find it has only a limited role to play in foreign policy.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2007

FOR THE first time since 1994, the Democrats control both houses of Congress. Expectations run high among members of the new majority as well as their supporters and commentators at home and abroad. Their hopes for fundamental change are fed not only by genuine policy agendas, but also by political rancor and a partisan polarization more pronounced than at the height of the Vietnam War. Yet the role of Congress in foreign policy remains relatively limited, and aspirations for fundamental change greatly exceed what political, institutional and geopolitical realities will allow.

In many quarters a visceral antipathy toward President Bush and Vice President Cheney has prevailed. This finds expression in a certain narrative about foreign policy. Versions of this narrative differ, but they tend to share common elements.

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