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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nuclear Fallout

Yesterday morning I expressed doubt that the filibuster ban would take place. I also predicted that anyone who reall wanted a shot at the '08 nomination for President would take the lead. What I didn't predict is that it would set the entire stage for the '08 Republican primary battle.

Over on the blogs, Faithful Progressive sees the moderates asserting themselves. Hippy Dave sees the paranoid Right crumbling in the extremism of Rick Santorum. I think they both miss the whole picture, but contribute very nicely to the discussion.

Here's the picture: people like Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, and Jeb Bush have increasingly put ambitious people like, Bill Frist in a position where he has to pander to the Religious Paranoia. His plan seems to have been to spend two years solidifying his base on the wacko-right and then try to convince everyone he's a moderate in the '07 primary. That is now the only position he has.

Don't think that anyone will let him move an iota on this, either. The Bush Administration needs the Religiously Paranoid to push any agenda. They lean on Frist to do their work in the Senate. Frist, having already begun courting the Religiously Paranoid at Justice Sunday, will find that they will viciously turn on him if he tries to moderate his position. Surely you have heard the Dobson quote about "betrayal". Don't think Frist won't hear this Bible verse if he wavers: (Luke 9:62) No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit...

But the threat of the nuclear option was very unpopular with many Americans. Even among partisan Republicans only 37% supported the power grab. That means that John McCain just gave Bill Frist a gut-check for the opening primaries. The other Republicans that voted for the compromise (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of SC, John Warner of VA, Mike DeWine of Oh, and Lincoln Chafee of RI) probably just put themselves in the running for a VP bid. I see Bill Frist getting very little support in Iowa or New Hampshire and with Graham falling towards McCain, things don't look so good in the Southland now.

A centrist will win the Republican nomination - and the (very) early favorite is McCain if he goes for it. If so, he'd probably have to take a Paranoid Right VP to hold the party together. Of course, he could realize that the Paranoid Right is not really going to vote for anyone but a Republican and make a bold move - like picking Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins for VP. Two moderates uniting Northeast and Southwest would radically alter electoral plans.

Of course, that Paranoid group could fracture completely and throw their weight behind "The Christian Party" or some such thing - and then Brownback and Frist have a chance at a nomination from someone.

Until then, Bill Frist, break out the Dylan records, cuz the times, they are a-changing.


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