Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Frist in ’08

Reading some of the fallout from the Freepirati, it looks like the long knives are out for the moderate Republicans for having the unmitigated gall to actually talk to Democrats in the deal to preserve the filibuster.

The biggest loser seems to be Sen. Bill Frist. While the move is on to put the best spin on it, it’s pretty clear that he’s seen as having caved to the moderates, and he knows it.

Frist himself tried to put the best face on things Monday night. Just a few hours after declaring that senators had a “constitutional responsibility” to provide up-or-down floor votes for every judge the president nominates, Frist struggled to explain how an agreement that will deny floor votes to two long-stalled Bush nominees might be spun as a victory for the Republican leadership. It didn’t work, and Frist seemed to know it. After a brief floor speech and a hand-shaking photo op with Harry Reid, Frist all but raced out of the Capitol as he said, over and over, “let’s move forward.” As Frist stepped outside and toward a waiting car, his press secretary, Amy Call, physically held a Capitol door closed to keep reporters from following him. [Tim Grieve in Salon]

Given that up until last night Frist was considered to be the darling of the evangelical wing of the Republicans and now he’s seen as being a sell-out, I’d say his chances for the nomination in 2008 just got a lot tougher. The right wing has a very long memory. All it will take is a few effective reminders — like the photo of the handshake with Harry Reid — from his primary opponents on the right and he will become the new John Connolly.