I think Kevin Drum is absolutely right to dismiss the paranoid conspiracy theories coming from Charles Krauthammer and others regarding the idea that somehow the entire Obama agenda is going to be passed during the lame-duck session of congress even if there are huge Republican wins in the election. Among other things, nothing about the lame-duck session magically eliminates filibusters.
But the fact that we’re even having this conversation does highlight the point that it’s pretty darn odd to have such a long time between when the election happens and when the newly elected members take office. I’m not a fan of the extended presidential transition period either, but that’s kind of built into the larger architecture of a system of government that features too many presidential appointees and not enough civil servants. For congress, however, I don’t see why there should be any transition at all. If you’re declared winner of a House or Senate race, you should become the member for the district or state right away. This isn’t 1807, members don’t need months and months to pack up all their belongs for an extended wagon trip to DC.