December 12, 2004

Would Trent Lott Have Been Better?

Today's Post retrospective on Tom Daschle's Senate career deserves a look. Reading through it, I sometimes wonder if the Democrats—nay, add the whole country here—might have been better off if they had never ousted Trent Lott in late 2002. After all, the fact that the GOP's new figurehead, Bill Frist, owed his job to the Karl Rove ushered in an era in which the Senate GOP became a faceless extension of the president's will and command. Lott, for all his warts, would have never let that happen, at least not to the degree we're seeing now.

Frist's incompetence as a leader, meanwhile, and his party's subsequent inability to get much of its agenda passed, drove the Senate GOP into such a fury that it lashed out by becoming, in essence, a pure campaigning machine. Frist couldn't get an energy bill passed, so the GOP decided that the solution was to use gay marriage and flag-burning to try to trap the Democrats. Frist couldn't get leaders to agree on a budget, so votes were manipulated to play "gotcha" games with Kerry and Edwards. On a substantive level, I can't imagine either party prefers this state of affairs—though Republicans might enjoy the election-day victories that came with it.
-- Brad Plumer 5:54 PM || ||