Tags: Frist | and | DeLay | Moving | GOP | the | Right

Frist and DeLay Moving GOP to the Right

Friday, 20 May 2005 12:00 AM

The filibuster won't go down next week; the Democrats are smart enough to avoid that. Better to save that for a fight over a Supreme Court justice. If no compromise can be worked out, and the Democrats don't have the votes to stop Frist, there is always the possibility of voting for cloture and not choosing to filibuster rather than taking the loss now.

But those are details for people who play inside baseball. For the public, what this fight, like the Terri Schiavo fight, confirms is the clear takeover of the party by its most conservative extreme. That's inevitable with 12 Republicans running for president and the right as the only organized interest in the party.

The judges on this list are not moderates by any definition: You have the guy who is owned by the mining industry, lock, stock and barrel; the woman who never found an insurance company she wouldn't rule in favor of; Karl Rove's favorite client.

And you have Bill Frist, not exactly Dr. Charisma, who desperately needs to collect chits with the right before he leaves the Senate because he has nothing else going for him as he heads into the presidential primaries. Americans may not know all the traditions behind the filibuster, where it came from and all the purposes it serves, but they understand political power plays for what they are.

If this move hadn't followed so closely upon Tom DeLay's cynical use of the Terri Schiavo case to divert attention from his own problems, it might not be so obvious. But it did.

In that case, Republicans made utter fools of themselves to much of the country by demagoguing an issue that most Americans felt they had no business involving themselves in, and were using only for their own purposes. What's worse, having written a terribly flawed bill, which failed to require the federal courts to take jurisdiction, they then went on the attack against the judges personally for enforcing the law as they wrote it.

When a former fertilizer salesman joins a former transplant surgeon in castigating distinguished judges, many of them Republican appointees, for not understanding the Constitution in a case where most people are on the side of the judges, it sure does look like Politics with a capital P. And when the attack is coming literally days after one judge has been killed after a contentious rape trial, and another judge has come home to find her husband and mother dead in her basement, it becomes all too clear that these men are putting Politics above the well-being of the judiciary.

Bill Frist's presidential ambitions, coupled with Tom DeLay's legal problems, are moving the Republicans well outside the mainstream, which is more important than the issue itself. It may help Bill Frist in a Republican primary, but it will make the nomination, if he wins it, worth that much less. Being a captive of the right is much more damaging, politically, than any position you could possibly have on filibusters or judges.

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The filibuster won't go down next week; the Democrats are smart enough to avoid that. Better to save that for a fight over a Supreme Court justice. If no compromise can be worked out, and the Democrats don't have the votes to stop Frist, there is always the possibility of...
Frist,and,DeLay,Moving,GOP,the,Right
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2005-00-20
Friday, 20 May 2005 12:00 AM
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