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Monday, May 30, 2005

Will the Center hold?

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.


Anonymous said...

Frist is a real leader unlike Trent Lott who consistently cut deals with Clinton and Daschle. Leadership is not about making deals and giving away the farm. It is about standing on principle and moving the Senate in the direction the nation would like it to go. Quite honestly for a Republican like myself, Trent Lott was a joke long before his racist comments. Lott enjoyed making deals and even bragged about how many times he and Clinton cut deals that sold out the base of both parties. Lott was a consumate inside the beltway politico, unlike Frist who is a leader in touch with the maasses of the American public who are sick and tired of the liberals getting away with obstructing the process in the US Senate.

Anonymous said...

I would not agree that Reid has done a good job. He allowed the moderate group to sell out Democratic principles and grassroots activists outside of Washington yet again with this deal.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats are pathetic. They consistently make deals with the GOP both in Dc and here in Florida and then claim "victory." That is why leaders like Howard Dean and Scott Maddox have emerged. You may not like the style they use, but they are rallying the Democratic base and moving the party towards the grassroots activists who are tired of the insider class making deals all the time.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats once again have given away everything and claim to us that they are fighting hard. It's no wonder liberals like myself are ready to go independent.

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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.