Democrat Nancy Pelosi, set to become the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, pledged to co-operate with Republicans as "the Speaker of the House, not the Speaker of the Democrats."Now, there are undoubtedly valid reasons not to actually follow through on impeaching Bush. But that doesn't mean there was any reason at all to completely take the option off the table before a single Dem-led committee has conducted a single hearing into Bushco's abuses over the past few years.
Talk of impeaching Bush "is off the table," she said. But she urged him "to listen to the voice of the people" on the war.
Rather than building on the Dems' electoral success, Pelosi has only strengthened Bush's hand by signalling that Bush won't face particularly severe consequences for either past crimes or future obstruction, and by giving the Republicans the ability to claim a Dem flip-flop if Bush predictably tests and exceeds the limits of Pelosi's tolerance. And it's not as if the Dems get anything out of the statement, as Bush hasn't apparently made any matching promises in return (even to avoid vetoing the Dems' 100-hour agenda which would be an entirely legitimate mandate to claim).
The Dems still have a chance to uncover and undo some of Bushco's damage to the U.S. over the next couple of years to set themselves up for 2008. But if Pelosi and company really believe they can afford to play nice with a ruthless political machine, then this year's results may only be a temporary reprieve from a longer-term decline for both the party and the U.S. as a whole.
Update: And as CC points out, it isn't Pelosi alone looking to minimize the victory.