WASHINGTON, DC—Democrats in both houses of Congress demanded a thorough inquiry Monday into whether or not the American people think they are doing a good enough job, and what, if anything, they should do differently.
"We cannot afford to make a wrong move as we face this crucial crossroads in our nation's history, which is why we need to know for sure what decision you'll support the most before we make it," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Monday, scrutinizing the assembled crowd for signs of approval. "The question facing us today is simple: Do you like us? If not, why? We demand an answer."
Added Pelosi: "The time for second-guessing our every move is now."
The DNC is in the process of forming a blue-ribbon advisory panel to investigate the true extent of Democratic popularity. Members reportedly include former Democratic congressman and independent-committee stalwart Lee Hamilton, pundit Arianna Huffington, Columbus, OH resident and semi-regular voter Nicole Jones, and Mukesh Chennapragada, a guy in the phone book. Among the panel's tasks are determining exactly what the clear mandate the Democrats received in their sweeping election victory last November was, and seeking the advice of political strategists, trend-watchers, historians, elder statesmen, psychologists, family, friends, acquaintances, and people on the street believed to represent "real Americans."
Finally, the panel will close its investigation by releasing an official "Democratic Performance Comment Card," which will rate the party as either "poor," "fair," "average," or "excellent." Room for additional comments will be provided on the back of the card.
Some Democrats, however, deem the panel inadequate, and call for Congress to appoint an independent counsel to cross-examine constituents. Others believe that the feedback from a special 1-800 "How's Our Governing?" number, which has been featured on bumper stickers affixed to the campaign tour buses of Democratic presidential candidates, should be analyzed before proceeding further.
"We need to aggressively pursue whatever it is people think we should do," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said. "We took a bold stance against the war—is that okay with everyone? We thought that was what people wanted, but we are not above changing our minds if that is what the situation requires. We also aired some pretty harsh rhetoric about the current administration—were we out of line? If people think we should ease back on the president for a while, we'll be more than happy to take a week off and focus on naming airports. We just need to know."
Kerry continued: "We do not—and I cannot stress this enough—want to offend anybody or cause anyone to dislike us for any reason."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is confident, or mostly confident, that the results of the inquiry will make the Democratic Party more responsive to the needs of its constituents, or at least more likeable.
"We just want to be as popular as we can be," Reid said. "Without immediate and diligent oversight on this matter, we have no idea if we are or are not doing whatever it is everybody may or may not want at any given time. Most of you are still opposed to the war, right? If an election were held today, would you still vote for us? These are questions that demand answers."
"That is, unless that's too much to ask," Reid added. "If that's too controversial a question, or if it makes anyone feel uncomfortable in any way, please, just let us know. Unless, of course, you honestly don't mind. Then it's fine."
Congressional Republicans have accused Democrats of abusing their newfound power.
"They're bogging down the democratic process for no reason," House Minority Leader John Boehner said. "When we were the majority, we didn't care how Americans felt—we just did what we wanted."
The harshest criticism of the move has, as usual, come from the Democrats themselves.
"By acting hastily, we may be encouraging possible negative public opinion in 2008," Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) said. "The last thing we Democrats need to do now is pressure the American people, when so much is on the line. If they want to give us more feedback, I'm sure they will, in time. It's best not to take too many risks."
"Right?" Filner added.