Friday, November 05, 2004
Other ways to skin a cat
Tuesday's Republican sweep of the South will reshape the next Senate, replacing moderate Democrats sometimes willing to cross party lines with ardent GOP conservatives who will press their leaders for a more right-leaning agenda, according to analysts.
Republicans are implying that the Democrats who are left in the Senate will be more gutless than usual, a prediction that is hard to refute—
Senate Republicans are still five votes shy of the 60 needed to cut off Democratic filibusters, but some said Bush's victory and GOP gains in Congress may give Democrats second thoughts about blocking as many Republican initiatives -- including judicial nominations as well as legislation -- as they blocked during the last two years.
"With 55 Republicans in the Senate and especially with the defeat of Senator Daschle, judicial nominations will be an area where [Democrats] will have to reassess their obstructionism," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).
But the Republicans have their own problems, which the writers scarcely mention—
"Regrettably, we have seen an erosion in the Senate of centrists on both sides of the aisle," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, a Republican moderate whose leverage may drop substantially in the next Congress. She said she hoped Bush will push for cooperation between the two parties.
Another GOP moderate, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R.I.), expressed even deeper disappointment, telling the Providence Journal he would not rule out switching to the Democratic Party.
If Senator Chafee is already hinting at a switch, Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine may not be far behind. After all, Maine did vote for Kerry, so the senators shouldn't have to worry about punishment from the voters if they decide to switch. What they will have to worry about, of course, is the Republican goon squad, which will do everything and anything to destroy anyone they consider to be a traitor to the party.
Senators Snowe and Collins have shown more independence from the Repug leadership than most, and they have both been firm supporters of abortion rights. Any radical anti-abortion moves in the Senate could be the solvent that dissolves their association with the party.
A party switch by all three Senators would not put the Democrats back in the majority, but it would return them to a position much closer to parity. And there will be other Senate seats to fight for in just two years. If Bush and the right-wing perform as we all expect—piling disaster upon disaster—the voters may be ready for a switch when that day rolls around.
Leon Holmes confirmed by the Senate