Auld Lang Resign: Topsy-Turvy Politics of '07

The year 2007 may be best remembered as one of political firsts.

The year that will soon pass marked the earliest, arguably most intense, and certainly most expensive presidential election campaigns in U.S. history.

It was also the first time a woman became a front-runner in the race for the White House -- and the first time a former first lady actively sought her husband's old job.

There was also the historic campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the first African-American to run a leading campaign for the Democratic nomination, and it was the year the first woman -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., -- was elected speaker of the House Representatives.


Another record of sorts -- President Bush's low 33 percent public approval rating inched closer to Harry Truman's record as the postwar president to linger longest without majority public support.

The year 2007 was also the year the president found his veto pen, blocking the Democratic-led Congress on health coverage for more lower-income children, federal stem cell research and setting a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Political scandal wasn't a first, but it certainly played a role in some of the year's most salacious news.


No controversy or gaffe topped the disclosure that Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig pleaded guilty to a reduced charge following his June arrest in a Minneapolis airport men's room sex sting.

But for all the firsts, scandal and candidates, Washington, or at least Congress, was known more for what it didn't do than for what it accomplished.

'Do-Nothing Congress'

Even lower than the president's approval rating is public sentiment toward Congress.

By more than a two-to-one margin, Americans gave both congressional Democrats and Republicans unfavorable ratings, according to a USAToday/Gallup poll.


Voted into power by a war-weary public, the 110th Democratic-led Congress soon found it didn't have enough of a majority to make most of its priorities a reality, including bringing the troops home.

In July, Democrats rolled out cots and ordered pizzas as they settled in for a marathon Senate debate on Iraq, but even that failed to resolve the partisan stalemate over how to end the war.

"Congress was in a tough situation because voters basically said stop the war, and they're not in a position to stop the war," said ABC News' Cokie Roberts, a veteran political correspondent.


"They're Congress, they're not the administration, and they don't have the votes in the Senate to do it."

Labeled the "do-nothing Congress" by critics, members failed to pass immigration reform, spending bills, the farm bill and an alternative minimum tax proposal -- with immigration reform, renewal of a terror surveillance program, and a rewrite of federal farm programs all pushed to 2008.

There were some Democratic achievements, including the first minimum wage hike in a decade, enactment of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, increased college aid, and an energy bill that will increase motor vehicle fuel efficiency standards.


Troop Surge

For President Bush, the year 2007 was again dominated by Iraq.

"The president has clearly bet his legacy and put all the chips in the pot on Iraq," said Stephen Hess, a presidential expert with the Brookings Institution in Washington, "and it looks better for him at the end of the year than it did at the beginning of the year."

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