Clay Bennett lays out the agenda for the next Congress and everyone else as well.
And it won't matter whether the curtain goes up on My Fair Lady or Drat! The Cat! The critics have spoken before opening night.
It's important to differentiate, not so much between the previous Congress and this upcoming one as between making predictions and taking pot shots. There is a reason cartoonists have always mocked the gossips at weddings who, as the bride walks up the aisle, whisper, "They'll never make it."
Even if they are proved correct, their attitude is contemptible. And since they say that at every wedding, they aren't being particularly clever or insightful, either.
This rush to judgment is no different. At least in past times, it was whispered rather than shouted.
When the Republicans announced that their agenda was to bring down the presidency, the gall of saying it publicly (as opposed to simply carrying out their cunning plan sub rosa) was commented on, certainly. But I seem to recall that only Democratic partisans expressed actual horror at the public statement, while others dismissed it as partisan rhetoric.
Which doesn't mean it didn't draw some commentary on that level, as in this Mike Luckovich 2009 panel:
But note that Luckovich is commenting on the attitude of the booboisie, not the Republican party.
Once the mob was rallied into a Tea Party and had actual representation in the halls of Congress, it was game on, and, after some initial shock at the blatant partisanship, we kind of settled into an acceptance that there was nothing Obama and the Democrats could propose that the Republicans wouldn't automatically move to defeat or block.
And, of course, the talking point "They both do it" began, despite the clear fact that this hadn't happened at this level in the past and that they weren't both doing it.
Will Rogers, the master of "they're all the same" jokes about Congress, built a career out of being the plain spoken hick who cuts through all the high-falutin' rhetoric of them thar East Coast types, but he was a stand-up comedian and a humor columnist, with a much closer kinship to Dave Barry than to Jon Stewart.
Today, those scatter-shot "plain folks" wisecracks about Congress are seen, not as rural humor, but as serious political commentary.
As noted here a few days ago, we've come to the point where the host of a venerable and respected political talk show, "Meet the Press," insists that "leadership" means ending gridlock, even when that entails totally abandoning principle in order to placate the other side.
"Compromise" now means holding out for awhile, making a few speeches and then letting the Wookie win.
All of which makes it perfectly reasonable to assume that the next Congress will be the same as the last Congress.
And, indeed, the Swift Boats are already being slipped into the water for Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearings.
But if there's anything more depressing than the prospects for fair dealing over the next two years, it's the widely announced, widely accepted prediction that we aren't going to have any.
If there is any place where perception becomes reality, it is in the political arena.
And there are lots of cartoons about Boehner being unable to control House Republicans, along the line of Nick Anderson's recent entry:
But there are very few that note the increasingly tenuous grip on things that the Tea Party loyalists maintain, or the growing backlash against obstructionism and extremist ideological dogmatism, aside from some mockery of Grover Norquist, more directed at him than at the overall movement.
This Tim Eagen "Deep Cover" cartoon seems rather lonely and wistful, amid all the "watcha gonna do about it" assumptions that what has been is what will be.
And lobbing tomatoes at the curtain doesn't accomplish a lot, especially when "everybody's doing it" and the rotten eggs smell pretty much the same no matter which side of the aisle they came from.