Last week's ground breaking deal in the Senate was the subject of most of the Sunday Morning shows this weekend. The big question facing the Senate is will the deal and pragmatism demonstrated to make the deal last beyond this one issue? My guess is that it likely will, for several reasons.
1- Bill Frist is the most ideologically inclined Majority Leader since Mike Mansfield. Frist, unlike his pragmatic predecessor Trent Lott (Former Senator and Clinton administration Defense Secretary Bill Cohen once remarked that Lott was the most pragmatic member of either House of Congress) has done little if anything to reach out to the more moderate members of his caucus. George Voinovich's tearful floor speech this past week regarding the Bolton nomination is proof positive of that. In the Trent Lott era, the whole issue of Voinovich's views would have been handled more gently. Instead, Frist's angry lobbying pushed Voinovich over to the Democrats. Frist's no-compromise attitude also has oushed John McCain among others further and further away from the GOP caucus position on key issues.
2- Lindsay Graham, who helped broker the deal has been speculated about as a possible convert to the Frist cause. But remember in 2000, when the Bush attack machine savaged John McCain's reputation, it was then Congressman Lindsay Graham who leapt to McCain's defense and disputed the claims of McCain's poor service record in Vietnam. Graham is moderate in a conservative state who has to be careful, and often times plays conservative for political reasons, but he is fiercly loyal to McCain above all.
3- Harry Reid is a pragmatist by nature. He will direct the Democratic caucus to work with moderate Republicans and hold 50 plus votes at almost all costs. Reid's style is very different than that of the more ideological Tom Daschle's. The challenge for Reid maybe more to keep Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and other bomb throwers from disrupting the Senate than from worrying about moderate Republican defections to Frist.
4- John McCain is the most popular politician among America's media elite since Robert Kennedy. My view is that the media has overdone the McCain juggernaut, but nonetheless in a city where Senators are scared to death of the elite media's ability to shape public opinion, and also have a fear of McCain, who is one of the most unpopular members of Congress among his colleagues. JFK was unpopular among his colleagues and he is the only recent President to come directly from the US Senate. I believe the elite media in Washington and New York is totally out of touch with reality and the heartland. That having been said, no question exists that the media has a great deal of sway over Congressional behavior.
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- I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.