Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Battle Is Joined

They're debating the filibustered judges in the Senate today, which means that we may have a vote on Monday or Tuesday, which will determine if the Senate Republicans pull the Constitutional Option on Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats.

Republicans don't need to fear doing this, because the majority of Americans are behind them per this Rasmussen Poll. The Dems may have finally overplayed their hand in the public eye, as people are not eager to watch the business of the nation be stalled because 44 Democrats can't get their way. Perhaps Bill Frist got lucky, because the more the Dems postured on the issue, the clearer and weaker their position appeared.

Now it comes down to several Republican Senators who fear the Dems more than voters, and several who are pure turncoats. I'll turn my attention first to John McCain (R-AZ) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). McCain has fallen in love with Democrats. The "cameo" that he had in the Jib-Jab cartoon about going both ways in D.C. said it all. But the way he most likes to go is across the aisle. I have no idea why this once reliable conservative has become such a thorn in the side of Republicans. It's clear that he's no Bush fan, but it's also clear that he's not thinking with all cylinders firing. Chafee is another story. This spineless wonder has always been unreliable, and it is possible that he prayed for a smaller Republican pickup in 2002 so that he could have more influence as a "moderate". Turning his back on his party now, in order to stay in the good graces of the Democrats, will hopefully be remembered next year when he begs the State of Rhode Island to vote for him. Because the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee may have more important fights to win, and it's possible that pickups in Washington, Florida or Maryland (Maria Cantwell (D) may suffer the backlash from the stolen gubernatorial election, Bill Nelson is the only statewide Florida Dem left in this getting-redder state, and Michael Steele (R-MD) may take Paul Sarbanes' (D-MD) seat) will more than offset his loss. 'Night Senator!

Arlen Specter (R-PA) is a different story. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and President Bush rescued Specter from a potentially fatal primary challenge by a much more conservative candidate. Since then, you'd never know that he owed his life to them. He turned leftward on judges as soon as he took the chair of the Judiciary Committee and now may vote against the Constitutional Option. But doing so may imperil Santorum who has spent quite a good deal of political capital on the judges issue and will have an even tougher reelection race next year in this slightly blue state. Skewering his very conservative rescuer will alienate Specter from his party, and will cost him the Judiciary seat. Nobody likes a turncoat.

And then there's Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Hagel is a reliable player on tax and business issues, but his successes in those areas have led him to become a self-appointed expert on everything else to get himself on camera. And he does that by checking the White House any time a defense or judicial issue arises. This really isn't that funny, because Hagel is toying with the very serious matters of national security in time of war and the integrity of our separation of powers and government of laws. And if he sticks his party to somehow remain "interesting" in D.C., it may haunt him with a primary challenge in 2008. Disloyalty on the big stuff is always remembered.

Lastly, somewhat liberal Mike DeWine of Ohio fears getting nailed in this state which almost went for Kerry in 2004. But Bush did indeed win. And a presidential race is not a Senatorial race (note Specter's victory in Kerry-won Pennsylvania). Buck up Senator. Cuyahoga County won't vote for you anyway, and nobody in Ohio cares about Harry Reid.

Norm Coleman (R-MN) has the control of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee funds. Coleman is a moderate in the true sense of the word, but he values loyalty in the important matters. And some Republicans may find out after its too late that going off the reservation isn't a very safe proposition. Because the Dems don't remember kindnesses. And Republicans won't forget slights.

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