Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Sunday | December 15, 2002

GOP power struggle in Senate

Ahh, it looks like we have a good ol' fashioned power struggle brewing in the Senate.

ickles, Lott's deputy for six years as the GOP whip, urged other Republican senators to consider picking a new leader because of the controversy.

Nickles, who had kept silent on Lott's remarks that conveyed nostalgia for the policies of racial segregation, said he accepts Lott's multiple apologies over the last week.

"I am concerned that Senator Lott has been weakened to the point that may jeopardize his ability to enact our agenda and speak to all Americans," Nickles said in a statement. "There are several outstanding senators who are more than capable of effective leadership, and I hope we have an opportunity to choose."

And by "several outstanding senators", Nickles is referring to himself. I'll take a Lott for Nickles trade.

As I've noted, the damage has already been done. Politically, Democrats win regardless what happens from here on out (though the victory is larger if Lott stays). Morally, the nation loses if Lott stays, wins big if he goes. And if Lott goes and resigns his Senate seat, well, then it becomes a whole new ballgame.

But back to Nickles -- he's lost his whip spot this upcoming session, having been term-limited by GOP rules. His successor, Mitch McConnel, has stood by Lott and uttered the lame "move on" plea. So, we start seeing the composition of the schism.

We have Nickles and the Senate's most conservative Republicans on one end, Lott and his loyalists on another, and GOP moderates facing the decidedly unsavory prospect of either sticking with an avowed racist or another colleage to the right of Lott!

(Lott has a 93 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, while Nickles clocks in at 96 percent.)

One other thought, the press will undoubtedly sift through the past of whoever might replace Lott (if indeed he is ousted). If Nickles were to be chosen, expect him to be raked over the coals for his homophobic policies (and he's the worst of the lot in the Senate -- no pun intended!). While homophobia isn't as radioactive as racism, it still should help cement the GOP's new reputation as the anti-tolerance party.

Moderate Republicans better pray for a Bill Frist victory (assuming his past is clean), but given the party's current tilt, could he really expect to get more than 10 votes? (And for the record, the "moderate" Frist has an 88 percent lifetime rating from the ACU, including a solid 100 percent in 2001.)

Posted December 15, 2002 09:50 AM | Comments (34)


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