Frequent poster Billmon submitted the following in my previous post. This is front page stuff.
Well, Turd Blossom/Boy Genius just pushed another tall stack of chips (in the form of Bill Frist) into the center of the table. I don't know if he really thinks he's holding a winning hand, or if he thinks he can bluff Lott into folding. A little of both, I suspect.
The problem for TB/BG is that Lott may have already grabbed the high cards when he threatened to resign from the Senate and return to Mississippi to contemplate the collected works of Jefferson Davis.
Now Shrub can shrug his shoulders and say "what, me worry?" about that, but the Senate Commmittee chairs are likely to see things in a slightly different light: a 50-50 split means a nasty dragout fight over the organizing resolution (which was already looking vicious).
Although some of the chairs reportedly were quietly trying to cut their own deals with their Dem counterparts, the leadership (which is now McConnell and Santorum, since Lott is hors d' combat) was holding out for a two-thirds, one-third split of budget and staff, with the Dems, of course, on the small side.
They probably weren't going to get it, but if Lott departs they'll be lucky if they can avoid the same 50-50 staff/budget split that was negotiated at the beginning of the last Congress, before Jeffords bugged out on them. The gory details are here.
So if Lott -- the bear of very little brain -- decides to check out of the 100-acre wood, he's gonna take a lot of the honey pots with him. Major frowns in the GOP cloakroom.
The way I see it, this gives the committee chairs a fairly clear incentive to tell TB/BG to go fuck himself. Now who are these people? Let's look at the 13 major committees:
Domenici -- EnergyBy my count, of the 13, six (Lugar, Stevens, Shelby, Gregg, Cochran and Hatch) have come out publically in favor of Lott, while 3 (Warner, Nickles and Inhofe) have declared for the rebels (now isn't that ironic.)
Hatch -- Judiciary
Thad Cochran -- Agriculture
Nickles -- Budget (probably)
Inhofe -- Environment
Warner -- Armed Services
Grassley -- Finance
Gregg -- Health, Education & Labor
Shelby -- Banking
Stevens -- Appropriations
Collins -- Government Affairs
McCain -- Commerce
Lugar -- Foreign Relations
The rest are doing what politicians always do best: sitting on the fence with a wet finger in the breeze. But the fact that they've stayed silent this long (in the face of enormous White House pressure and Lott's terrible PR) tells me they are leaning towards Lott, if they think they can get away with it.
Note, also, that Appropriations and Agriculture, two of the most important committees of all (at least for Senators looking for some pork to throw the folks back home) are in the hands of the loyalists. Grassley at Finance -- the third of the "power" committees -- watches and waits.
This is a strong hand, folks. Most Senators, especially the young un's (the incoming members) know they would do well to stay in the good graces of these chairmen, for they will be around whether Lott stays or goes. They can do a lot to make -- or break -- a Senator's career. That can count for a lot when it comes time to vote -- especially in a secret ballot.
Conclusion: If Turd Blossom really wants to force Lott out, he's either got to kill him (just joking) make him an offer too good to pass up (but what? I mean, how many bridges and shipyards can Pascagoula hold?) or wheel out his weapon of mass destruction: a direct, public request from the president for Lott to step down.
But then he'd have to deal with the Category 4 shithurricane that would hit Republicanland.