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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Portrait of a Senator as a Major Chump

Remember John Thune (R-SD) and the suckers citizens of South Dakota who railroaded Tom Daschle out of the Senate on the word of Bill Frist who said he'd use his clout to keep Ellsworth airforce base open if Thune was elected? Thune himself claimed he'd "have the President's ear." Well, when the latest round of base closings were announced, it looks like his ear wasn't the part of his anatomy that Fearless Leader made available to Thune. At the top of the list? Yep, Ellsworth.

There aren't a lot of political options open to a freshman senator, so Thune is flexing his muscle in the only way he can -- he's turning obstructionist. Although Thune told Mr. Yell-o-vision in April that he thought Bolton was the man for the UN job, he announced Friday that he would not support the nomination, and alluded to the fact that it was in protest over the Ellsworth closing. He's also joining the efforts of Olympia Snow to introduce legislation forcing the Pentagon to release data behind the recommended base closings, which obviously means that I wasn't the only one who suspects the specifics of the closings were at the very least equal parts politics and pragmatism.

And although Mary Landreiu (D-LA) was one of three Democrats who voted for cloture yesterday on the Bolton nomination, she announced Friday that she would vote "no" on the nomination if it came to an up or down vote, based on Bolton's "pattern of poor judgment and inappropriate behavior." The time Harry Reid bought when he hoodwinked Frist on Thursday seems to be working in the Democrats' favor.

But over at, there was an interesting conversation on the curious absence of Arlen Spector (R-PA) when the Senate voted for cloture. He took off to go have chemotherapy, but he didn't seem to tell Bill Frist, who held the vote from closing for 50 minutes while they tried to find Specter. Some are speculating that Specter bailed so that fellow moderates didn't have to vote in open defiance of the White House to assure that the Bolton nomination went down.

Which means that if the moderate Republicans were also conspiring behind Frist's back in addition to Harry Reid's superb bluff (lying to him about the number of Democrats in support of cloture) it's no wonder the eminent Doctor and erstwhile cat killer looked so gobsmacked when he came up 4 votes short. Prospects for Frist 2008 must be looking awfully dim with BushCo. commanding him to piss up a rope while so many factions are vying for the opportunity to mount his head on a pole.

This is definitely turning into the best spectator sporting event of the season.