Thoughts of an American Centrist

Friday, April 15, 2005

Did Bill Frist Commit Political Suicide?

Of course, deciding to dismantle an age old democratic tradition in one of our most hallowed Governmental chambers does not come without personal political ramifications.

In a move of desperation, Bill Frist has established himself as the Religious Right's candidate for the 2008 GOP Presidential Nomination. Ordinarily, a move to simply eradicate the opposition in order to push through judicial nominees wouldn't have anything to do with a religious movement. Except this time Frist went one step further and allied himself with the Family Research Council and led credibility to their ridiculous claim that conservative judges are being held up because of their faith. The group even goes so far as to say "[the judicial nominees] are being blocked because they are people of faith and moral conviction."

I guess Bill Frist sees that the votes of moderate Republicans and independents will all be taken up by either Rudy Giuliani or John McCain in 2008 (not that McCain very publicly announced that he would not vote to remove the filibuster). He therefore must position himself as the early candidate of the Social Conservatives of his party. Of course, this has been developing for the past few weeks. Last month, this brilliant heart surgeon proved he could handle any problem of the medical field by single-handedly diagnosing Terri Schiavo's condition. If that's not an open courting of the Social Conservative vote I don't know what is.

Of course, now that he has made this bold alliance and taken the even bolder step towards ending one of the last stumbling blocks to Majority Free-For-All in the Senate, he needs to deliver. Big time. The embattled nominees will surely get their vote (and their robes), but what comes next? If the Senate grinds to a halt (as Democrats are threatening), Frist will be forever seen as a man who acts in despairation and STILL can't get the job done. Kiss that nomination good-bye. Mr. Leader's task will now be to convince Democrats to continue working with him to pass legislation. He can do this either the nice way or the not-so-nice way.

For the not so nice way, Frist can go after all those Red-State Democrats with a vengeance if they don't play ball. He'll evoke memories of Tom Daschle, and maybe even send a few direct mails in their state in the hopes of scaring them into compliance. The nice way would be tougher, but I'm guessing that it would involve some type of pork product or the promise co-sponsorship on future legislation.

Even these scenarios may not be enough to sway most Dems. If the Senate Majority Leader forms a blood-bond with the religious right, they'll have a fundraising field-day. Blue State Republicans (few as they are) should be VERY nervous about that. If Democrats can sell the idea that the Senate is controlled by the Pat Robertsons of the world, they will have an inside straight draw's chance (or maybe a little less) of regaining Senate control back in 2006. This issue is not sitting well with moderates, such as myself. Read Joe Gandleman's scathing review for a taste of what Senator Frist has in store for him.

So all this brings us to the title of our post. Did Bill Frist commit suicide? The answer is "not necessarily." He has a very long and very thin tightrope to walk, and he has to do a lot of stuff right in the coming months to get the chips to fall his way. One thing is for sure, if he makes too many big missteps he will be out in the cold by the Iowa Straw Poll. If, on the other hand, he is somehow able to navigate some of the key Bush initiatives through the Senate between now and primary time, he'll be in a pretty good position to make his case for leader of the Party.

Odds Frist will pull it off, 4:1.

2 Comments:

  • I hope Bill Frist is the Republican nominee in 2008. Hillary would destroy such an inept politician.

    I am not a fan of Hillary but Frist just lowers himself in my opinion with everything he does.

    By Blogger Thomas, at 9:09 PM  

  • Man, if it's Bill Frist and Hilary in the general, I think I'll have to vote 3rd party!

    By Blogger Jonathan C, at 10:33 AM  

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