Let's give credit where credit is due.

The Democrats in the House are off to a good start. Nancy Pelosi is taking advantage of friendly media to soft-sell herself as a sensitive and efficient Speaker of the House.

The 100 Hours Agenda is being implemented:

Tuesday, January 9: Implement the 9/11 Commission Recommendations

Wednesday, January 10: Increase the Minimum Wage

Thursday, January 11: Expand Stem Cell Research

Friday, January 12: Allow Negotiation for Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Wednesday, January 17: Cut Interest Rates on Student Loans

Thursday, January 18: End Subsidies for Big Oil and Invest in Renewable Energy

Here is the "Countdown Clock." If you are interested in checking the progress of the program, they are right on schedule.

These bills are passing, by the way, with large Republican votes in support. They are generally innocuous but ring with common sense and populist appeal.

Defying many of the predictions of wild-eyed Jacobins tearing down the fabric of the republic, the new majority has not moved to impeach the President, initiate a draft, defund the war, dismantle domestic surveillance of suspected terrorist supporters or even push through an agenda of San Francisco-style social revolution. Perhaps those things are in the offing, but, for now, the Democrats appear mild-mannered, competent stewards of the people's interest.

Despite some harsh rhetoric, they have opted for caution in dealing with the war and the President's plan to add troops in Iraq. They are allowing the Senate to take the lead in opposing the President, where some high-profile Republican Senators are set to abandon the President and give cover to the expected collapse of support among House Republicans. Instead of dusting off the War Powers Act, or moving to cut off money to troops in the field, the Democratic leadership is quietly setting the stage for a grassroots revolt against the President's authority to conduct the war.

The bad news for the GOP is that this leadership team is likely here for an extended period of time. It is unlikely that the electorate will eject this newly elected majority in 2008. Why would they?

An aside: In the Senate the prognosis is even worse in the near term. Eighteen incumbent Republicans senators are up for re-election in 2008. Those will be tough races. Why are conservative Republicans running for cover? George Allen, Jim Talent and Rick Santorum. Why are moderately conservative Republicans in swing states running for cover? Mike DeWine. This explains why the Republicans in the Senate are in full retreat.

The good news is that the Senate, in the long view, looks good for the Republicans. Since 1980, control of the Senate has changed hands repeatedly; that trend will likely continue. Barring complete disaster, we can expect the GOP to contest for the Senate as early as 2010.

When can we expect a GOP majority to return in the lower house? Perhaps if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, the traditional difficulties for the majority party affiliated with the sitting president will help the Republicans to fight their way back in 2010. But don't count on it. We may be talking about Speaker Pelosi in 2012 and 2014 and 2016.