Friday, December 20, 2002

Lagniappe - The New York Times has editorialized about the GOP "changing of the guard" from Lott to Frist as Senate Majority Leader. The last sentence of the editorial states: "One of the obvious lessons of the Lott firestorm is that the Republicans must give much more than a passing glance to the record of the person they choose to lead them." For the next two years, the spotlight will be almost unfairly pinpointed on every small movement made by the GOP leadership - just because of the overwhelming and unopposed power the Republican party commands over the federal government.

I will mention again my belief that single party governance is no cake-walk. The simple fact is that the GOP effectively controls both chambers of Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. In the public's mind this makes any excuse for GOP blustering and inaction unacceptable; it gives the illusion to GOP lawmakers that things ought to proceed seamlessly and smoothly, thus leading to a "relaxing" of the GOP guard; and it gives license to the Democrats to take the gloves off and pull out the stops since there is really nothing more to lose. All of this only makes governing that much more difficult for the GOP. Not to say the GOP can't rise to the challenge, but it won't be easy. This whole Lott affair encapsulates this dynamic: Lott let down his guard and the response was exceedingly and unexpectedly (even if justifiably) brutal; but the GOP seems to have struggled and limped through it, though with clear damage done. Democrats were for the most part silent on this matter, preferring to let the GOP leadership battle it out. As long as there is no "opposition" in positions of power to at least give the appearance of a "balance" of power, I predict more such scenarios of internecine conflict for the GOP over the next two years.

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