Wednesday, February 2


This article is priceless:

The central problem for Dr. Frist is that he needs the Democrats, or at least a few of them, but he also needs to hold together a sprawling, predominately conservative Republican caucus. So he promises more bipartisanship, but only to a point.

"I can play hardball as well as anybody," he said, unprompted, at the end of a recent interview. "That's what I did, cut people's hearts out. On the other hand, I do it to cure them, to heal them, to make them better."

Democrats, whose hearts are presumably on the table, express skepticism.
Dr. Frist and the Democrats are heading for an extraordinary showdown - some scholars say historic - over filibustering judicial nominations. Democrats have blocked 10 of about 50 nominees to the appellate courts. Dr. Frist is warning that unless Democrats allow all of Mr. Bush's nominees to go to a floor vote this year, he may seek to change the rules of the Senate to end judicial filibusters.

Democrats say it would fundamentally change the nature of the Senate, and vow to retaliate with parliamentary warfare. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Democratic leader, said the rule change - called the nuclear option by Democrats - would affect the chances for bipartisanship across the board. "You can't have it both ways," Mr. Reid said in an interview. "We're not going to have the nuclear option one day, and kiss and hug the next."
In fact, there is widespread anxiety in Republican circles these days, and no real consensus on how to achieve the president's domestic goals or even, perhaps, whether doing so is worth the price.
At the moment, though, Dr. Frist faces what looks like a solid wall of Democratic opposition and suspicion, particularly on Social Security. Mr. Reid said Tuesday that every Democrat in the Senate now opposed Mr. Bush's proposal for diverting payroll taxes to private accounts. Democrats say they are still angry over their leaders being shut out of the conference committee that worked out the final Medicare law, legislation affecting 40 million Americans. They also remember Dr. Frist traveling to South Dakota to campaign against the Democratic leader, Mr. Daschle, who was defeated.

Mr. Reid said, "I would never do that."
Many Democrats suspect that Republicans simply want to pick off a handful of "red state" Democrats to put their party over the top, rather than engage in truly bipartisan negotiations.

"They and the president seem to want to continue the same approach they've always used," said Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, a member of the Democratic leadership, "that they control the White House, the House and the Senate, and they're going to call the shots."
Among Republicans, there is a clear feeling that Democrats are not playing by the rules, by refusing to recognize the Republican majority as having a mandate. "You have a very tough core of Democrats on the other side who are just purely ideologically driven and don't want to see any kind of collaboration with the Republicans that may result in changes to the way they structure programs around here," said Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, No. 3 in the Republican leadership.
Dr. Frist said he hoped for more bipartisanship and civility...
[Emphasis mine]

Boo hoo. The mean old Democrats won't lie down and let us screw them again like we've done for the past four years. CIVILITY? The Repugs have demonstrated they don't know the meaning of the word.

I'm pleased as punch so far with Harry Reid, and encouraged to see Democrats unifying and actually performing as an opposition party. Seems they've finally learned that to these people, in Grover Norquist's words, "Bipartisanship is another word for date rape."

Rick Santorum calling ANYONE "ideological" is a farce of monumental proportions.


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