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April 15, 2005
The Net Effect Of Dithering

The Hill reports today that the GOP has not only lost its momentum on judicial nominations, but that it acknowledges being out-generalled by the lightly-regarded Harry Reid on filibusters. In a stinging indictment of Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, GOP staffers and politicians now want to create a "war room" to recapture the message they frittered away in the session's opening weeks:

Senate Republican leaders were due to meet last night amid rising concern that they are being beaten on the nuclear option by Sen. Harry Reids (D-Nev.) public-relations war room.

The GOPs talks follow a meeting last week in which aides warned Bob Stevenson, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frists (R-Tenn.) communications director, that something needs to be done to win back lost ground, a participant said.

I think theres a realization that this particular [Democratic] effort has to be countered and theyre in full-scale attack mode, a GOP aide said, adding, I think that people know that weve got a serious problem here.

Theres been a lot of talk. Advice has been solicited from me and others. Ive been told that a plan will be submitted tonight. It will be tweaked.

Gee, could that result from a complete lack of action for the first three months of the new session on the issue? Just possibly! The Republicans thundered to unprecedented gains in Bush's re-election, gathering an 11-vote advantage over the Democrats after specifically campaigning on judicial nominations. In the case of Tom Daschle, the entire campaign focused on nothing else but Daschle's obstructionism, and the GOP took down the sitting Minority Leader. The issue of judicial activism is one of the few that unites the base and the libertarians, the right and the center of the party.

And what did Bill Frist do? He dithered while Harry Reid demonstrated that he had no intention of treating the Senate like a "club", the preferred environment for which so many GOP Senators appear to pine. Reid went to war, first with the Electoral College vote -- issuing the first challenge since Samuel Tilden -- and then allowed his caucus to rip Condoleezza Rice in the most personal of terms, a precedent-breaking performance for the "clubbiness" of Senate tradition.

If Frist wants to join a club, let him apply to the BPOE. He gave away the momentum on this issue to play Mr. Nice Guy with people who have never played nice in their lives. Leadership? I call that idiocy. Here's another example of GOP political insight under the Frist regime:

Another GOP aide said: Theres a general sense in the rank and file that we are a little in the hole and that Democrats have been more aggressive on messaging, that weve kind of gone dark. Democrats have gotten a head start and defined the issue ahead of us.

At a closed-door luncheon Tuesday, members of the Democratic caucus were presented a stack of more than 260 press editorials from 41 states and the District of Columbia arguing against changing Senate rules to prohibit judicial filibusters. Thats quite a change from a year and a half ago, when many editorial boards criticized Democrats for blocking confirmation votes on President Bushs judicial nominees.

That's the Frist Era for you: The Age of Lost Opportunities. This Hill report shows that Frist doesn't have the capacity to lead the majority in the Senate. Frist must step down immediately and the Republicans need to replace him with someone who doesn't get clammy at the sight of Harry Reid wiping his glasses. If Frist isn't man enough to resign, the GOP should remove him anyway.

UPDATE: Hey, it turns out I'm more powerful than I knew! Maybe I can perform marriages, too. I'll call Gopher, Isaac, Doc, and Julie together for a wacky-yet-heartfelt ceremony ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 15, 2005 6:03 AM

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