Friday, May 13, 2005

Stuck in the Middle

The New York Times reports on the dilemma of the moderate Republicans.

From the fight over Mr. Bolton to the looming blowup over the president’s judicial nominees to the debate over the proposal to overhaul Social Security, Republican moderates are caught in the middle as never before. As they look to the near future, to a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court, they realize that the pressures will only intensify.

“Bolton is a perfect example of putting the moderates in an impossible situation,” said Senator Lincoln Chafee, the Rhode Island Republican who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and who agonized publicly over Mr. Bolton for weeks. “It’s a no-win. Either we don’t support the president or we vote for a very unpopular pick to represent us at the United Nations.”

The elections in November put seven new Republicans, nearly all conservatives, in the Senate, increasing the party’s majority to 55. As moderate Senate Republicans look out around the country, they are comforted by the ranks of moderate governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, George E. Pataki in New York and Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

But here in the Capitol, their numbers are so few, said Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, that they quit having their weekly lunches about a year ago.

“Susan and I were there alone for so much of the time,” Mr. Specter he said, referring to Senator Susan Collins of Maine, “we worked through all of our conversation and decided to disband.”

While I can certainly sympathize with the moderates, it is tempered by the fact that unless they spent the last ten years in the Delta Quadrant, they knew good and well that the Republican Party has become a right-wing bastion of uncompromising and strident evangelists for the Religious Reich. Yet all they did was tut-tut and back their candidate right or wrong, hoping that he would be a “compassionate conservative” when it came to implementing his agenda. Well, now they’re reaping the results and finding themselves treated like bastard children at the family reunion. Why am I not surprised.