One of the more interesting memes spread by pro-Obama Kossacks is the notion that electing Hillary Clinton means that the Clintons between them will cause the Dems to lose Congress, like what they think happened in 1994, when Bill was President.
OK, now I know that a voter who is 18-25 this year was between four and eleven years old in 1994, but that's still no excuse for not understanding what happened in that election cycle.
(details below the fold)
Coming into the 1994 election, the Democrats held the House of Representatives for over 40 years. The chamber was rocked by scandals, most notably the House Banking Scandal and the Congressional Post Office Scandal.
At the time, the House operated its own "bank," and allowed CongressCritters to overdraw their accounts and not back them up on their Visa cards. The abuse of the "bank" ran from simple overdrafts to felonies. In the end, one Republican, four Democrats, the Dem Delegate from DC, and the House Sergeant At Arms were all convicted or pled guilty to charges stemming from this scandal.
The Congressional Post Office scandal netted a big fish, Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL). "Rosty," a product of the Cook County political machine, was chairman of Ways and Means at the time. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months for laundering money through the post office.
While the corruption of the House Bank was bi-partisan (many Republicans were just as guilty of the overdrafts as Dems), the Post Office scandal was essentially Rosty's thing. The GOP leadership, led by then Minority Whip Newt the Gingrich, was outraged at how then-Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) was sitting on the accusations and reports alleging wrongdoing by Rostenkowski.
In short, the House was a sewer of corruption, Democratic corruption. That's what happens when you're in control of an institution for generations. GOP attempts to break the Dem lock on the House date back much farther than Clinton's presidency. One of the main vehicles of attack was GOPAC, a Republican Political Action Committee that was formed in 1977. GOPAC's leadership was taken over by Gingrich during the term of Bush 41, and Newt used the PAC's fund raising power to put the squeeze on Speaker Foley.
And squeeze he did, shouting the sins of the Democrats to anyone who would listen. In 1992, Gingrich began to seriously push the notion of term limits for CongressCritters, a concept vehemently opposed by Foley and the Democrats. Term limits became one of the highlights of "The Contract for America," a series of pledges and promises Republicans running for Congress in 1994 signed and promoted.
Clinton's policies of that first year and a half didn't help, either. This was when Hillary led the task force on health care. Some of the things being put forward by the task force were unacceptable to Congressional Dems and the interests that pumped millions of dollars into their campaign warchests. Hillary's style (and that of her task force staff) chafed a number of Congressional leaders, slowing down any hope of moving forward on the issue. But, in the end, it was the CongressCritters themselves the people blamed. When Dems in Congress blocked Republican initiatives put forward by St. Ronald of California and Bush 41, they were participating in "divided government." Ronnie's people weren't much better than the current turds in the West Wing, so it wasn't hard to explain the opposition. When Clinton took office, though, there was no division of government, and the youthful, charismatic Southerner made the Critters look bad.
And boy, were they spanked for their misdeeds. Thirty-four (34) incumbent Dems lost their seats in 1994, compared to no Republicans. The total swing with open seats was 54. Among those defeated were Rostenkowski (IL-5), running for his 18th term, Neal Edward Smith (IA-4), also running for an 18th term, Jack Brooks (TX-9), running for his 21st term, and the Speaker, Tom Foley (WA-5), running for his 15th term.
To attribute the ability to oust 34 incumbent Dems, including such senior members as listed above, to a President who had been in office a mere 22 months is preposterous.
On the Senate side, open seats killed the Democrats' hope of keeping control of the chamber. Two incumbent Dems were defeated, Harris Wofford (PA) and Jim Sasser (TN). Scandal tainted the Senate at this time as well. Dennis DeConcini (AZ) retired after becoming part of the "Keating Five," one of the many aspects of the "Savings and Loan Scandals" of the 1980s.
(Interestingly enough, John McCain was also a member of the Keating Five. Useful information to remember. Or maybe look up for those of you who didn't know that in the first place.)
In addition to DeConcini, the Majority Leader, George Mitchell (he of steroid fame of late) retired, creating an open seat in ME. MI, OH, OK, and TN also had open seats, the latter the result of Al Gore becoming veep. Again, it's possible to argue that Clinton's first year in office had some impact on these races, but there's no way the blame for all these races can be laid at Clinton's feet.
The dynamics of Congressional elections have been different for every cycle in the 20th century as well as the 21st. To say that we'll have the same situation as 1994 simply because the President's name might be Clinton again ignores these dynamics.
Still, Hillary Clinton eats babies. And sacrifices cats.