Results from the 1990 mid-term elections, in which Democrats gained nine seats in the House and one in the Senate, virtually assure that party's control of Congress until the end of the century. For President Bush, this portends more of the harshly partisan opposition on domestic issues he encountered in the bruising budget struggle that brought the 101st Congress to a close.
If war breaks out in the Persian Gulf before the 102nd Congress convenes in January, the dynamics of the executive-legislative relationship will alter drastically in ways reflecting the tide of battle. Otherwise, the onset of economic recession and the approach of presidential elections are likely to lead to protracted conflict over taxes and spending, issues in which the Democrats believe they have gained an advantage as self-appointed champions of "fairness."
Whether Republicans retaliate by exploiting racially tinged conflicts over "job quotas" is something that will largely be determined by the president. He ought to stop it quickly, now that his position in dealing with the GOP right-wing is enhanced by minority whip Newt Gingrich's near-loss. Vigorous moderation on the part of the president might repair his drooping popularity ratings and his tarnished reputation for competence.