an update: i've restored the original configuration. sorry to all you ie users: ie has a bug in it where it doesn't properly restore css configurations to default in certain situations, resulting in incorrect display of my textbox. this is a combination bug in ie and wordpress, and the wp folks haven't worked around it yet. blame redmond.
the comment box is semi-fixed. it still doesn't work quite right in internet explorer, but at least it doesn't hide the last bit of the line of your comment. also, the fix fucks up the display of comment lines in both ie and firebird, and i'm most unhappy with it. this is caused by an internet explorer bug that will likely never be fixed.
i dunno what i'm going to do with all this. it's a -huge- hassle. maybe i'll go back to the way it was and simply remind internet explorer users that there are better alternatives.