Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » April 2005 » Era of the Swing Conservative

[« Just when I think that I can't be surprised anymore, someone surprises me....] [Hilarious and understated...David Brooks »]

04/09/2005: Era of the Swing Conservative

This article in the Washington Monthly: Swing Conservative illustrates both the political advantages and party disadvantages of those independant minded, "follow thier conscience" politico's...

"...But Lindsey Graham is no moderate. He came to Washington as a Newt Gingrich acolyte, served as a House manager of President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, and is pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-tax cut. According to the standard-bearing American Conservative Union, Graham has voted for the conservative position 91 percent of the time since coming to Congress in 1995, identical to the rating with which Strom Thurmond retired. Neither is Graham a maverick like McCain, someone hated by some of his GOP colleagues for his tendency, as one Republican senator described it to me, to “mount the parapet and wave the flag and take the pin out of the grenade.” Rather, most GOP senators seem genuinely to like and respect Graham. Indeed, everyone seems to love him.

Part of it is just Graham's personality. He carries none of the airs that surround many of his colleagues. His self-deprecating wit and aw-shucks Southern charm are hard to dislike. While not short on ambition, he shares credit with his colleagues and keeps his ego in check by pointing frequently to his own shortcomings.

But there's more than personal charm behind the South Carolinian's sudden rise to bipartisan stardom. Graham has discovered a new niche in the Senate, one opened by last November's elections. During Bush's first term, control of the Senate hung on a one-vote margin, and those senators in the middle held power. With the two parties almost evenly divided, victory on the most contentious issues depended on securing the votes of a small group of moderates—on the Democratic side, senators such as Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and the now retired John Breaux (D-La.); on the Republican side, lawmakers such as Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.)—or the mavericks such as McCain and collaborators such as Zell Miller (D-Ga.). But in a 55-45 GOP Senate, the moderates, mavericks, and turncoats have lost most of their clout, and the fulcrum of deal-making power has shifted to the right. Democrats know that to have any chance of affecting or killing a piece of legislation, they must not only win over McCain and the moderates, but also pick off a conservative or two. On the Republican side, those who can maintain credibility with the White House and Senate leadership and at the same time work with Democrats to maximize their influence are the ones in the best position to broker compromises. These dealmakers represent a new species on Capitol Hill: call them “swing conservatives.”

Several solid GOP senators have moved into this category. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) has done so on immigration, Social Security, and a few defense issues. Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) have allied with Democrats to hold up the White House's energy bill due to environmental concerns. And old lions Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) have stalled in the path of a dramatic and controversial change in parliamentary procedure that would smooth confirmation for the most conservative of Bush's judicial nominations. The Senate's latest arrivals are catching on. Conservative freshmen Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) are pushing their own version of a bill to allow the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada.Of all the swing conservatives, Graham is arguably the one willing to cross deepest into bipartisan territory. But while his apostasies make headlines and give the White House occasional headaches, when all is said and done, Graham's independence is at least as valuable to the Republicans as it is to Democrats. Consider his role in the Abu Ghraib hearings. With his tough questioning of Rumsfeld, Graham earned a rare Washington commodity: credibility.

In the end, however, he put that credibility to use in bolstering the position of the secretary of defense. On “Meet the Press,” Graham pointedly refused to say Rumsfeld should step down, a position he has maintained ever since. During those crucial early days, Rumsfeld's ability to maintain unified GOP support in the Senate was essential to his political survival. Had Graham flipped, the White House's continued loyalty to Rumsfeld would have been made far more difficult, if not impossible. Graham's even-handed posture “did a lot to end a period that was corrosive and dangerous for the administration,” says Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).

For all the appeal of Graham's swing conservatism to Democrats, the elemental fact is that, on the big questions, it serves Republicans most."

Karen on 04.09.05 @ 07:24 AM CST

[ | ]

April 2005

Archives of Blogger site
Archives: May '04-Feb '05
Archives: Feb-March '05

Powered by gm-rss

Len's sidebar:
About Len (The uncondensed version)
Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
The St. Louis Browns
The Birdwatch
Hey! Spring of Trivia Blog
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything
George Dubya Bush Blows
Kraftwerk: Chicago, 6/4/2005
My Chicago: Part One
My Chicago, Part Two
Millennium Park
Miscellaneous Chicago
Busch Stadium Tour and BoSox/Cards Game: 6/6/2005
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum

Len's extended blogroll:

Brock's Sidebar:
About Brock
The Agitator
Boing Boing
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
The Decembrist
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Flypaper Theory
Heretical Ideas
John and Belle Have a Blog
Jon Rowe
Julie Saltman
The Language Guy
Literal Minded
Marginal Revolution
Matthew Yglesias
Oliver Willis
Orin Kerr
Political Animal
Positive Liberty
Signifying Nothing
Unqualified Offerings

Karen's Sidebar
About Karen
The Ig-Nobel Prizes
The Annals of Improbable Research
The Darwin Awards
EBaums World
Real Clear Politics
U.S. News Wire
Foreign Affairs
The Capitol Steps
Legal Affairs
Nobel Laureates for Change
Program On International Policy
Law of War
Sunday Times
Media Matters
Is That Legal?
Andrew Sullivan
Literal Minded
Jon Rowe
Freespace Blog
Thought Not
Publius Pundit
Blog Maverick
Rosenberg Blog
Crooked Timber

The Rocky Top Brigade:

Rocky Top Brigade Sampler

A New Memphis Mafia

The liberal alternative to Drudge.

Get Firefox!

The Rebel Alliance of Yankee Haters
Blue Squadron (NL)
Babalu (Marlins)
Leaning Toward the Dark Side (Mets)
Ramblings' Journal (Cubs)
Mediocre Fred (Brewers)
Len Cleavelin (Cardinals)
Red Squadron (AL)
Obscurorama (Red Sox)
Frinklin Speaks (Mariners)
Steve Silver (Twins)
Steve the Llama Butcher (Red Sox)
Rob the Llama Butcher (Rangers)
MoatesArt (Red Sox)
Rammer (Tigers)
JawsBlog (Indians)
Ubi Libertas (Blue Jays)
Oldsmoblogger (Indians)
Mass Backwards (Red Sox)
Industrial Blog
Cry Freedom

How many visitors are here:

Blogrings/Blog indexes/Blog search:
« ? Verbosity # »

Listed on Blogwise
Blogarama - The Blog Directory
Popdex Citations
Blog Search Engine

Greymatter Forums Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
template by linear