Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The Aftermath

I have taken a lot of heat because of my comments yesterday. Today, I still stand behind them. Just to be clear, though, I will try to clarify a few things.

First, Josh Trevino has commented that I missed the point of his post on RedState. Well, judging by the myriad of comments from angry readers that he has received, Trevino may want to use caution next time he writes, because apparently I wasn't the only one who missed the point. Unfortunately, Trevino didn't elaborate as to what he was meaning to write, so I will take him at his original post, which, after a re-read, belittles American conservatives.

Second, Matt White and Blogging for Bryant both came out with strong defenses of Senator Frist yesterday evening. Although Bill Hobbs was the only blogger mentioned by name as a subject of the retort, I suspect that I, too, was a target of the posts but was not named because JB and Matt are good guys and knew that I would get the message by being referred to as one of the "conservative bloggers." In any case, I disagree with how this all plays out - particularly with Frist's chances in 2008. I posted several weeks ago that Frist had to change the Senate Rule prior to a Supreme Court nominee reaching the Committee on the Judiciary to even have a chance at winning the GOP nomination in 2008. However, even then, I thought Bill was a longshot.

To be clear, I'm not sure exactly how Frist could have put down this mutiny, but that is more because I am now here in Knoxville and not in Dirksen Senate Office Building advising him. I imagine that Bill could have threatened a committee reorganization or a reprioritization of legislation close to the 7 Benedict Arnolds' hearts in exchange for loyalty, but that is pure speculation. The bottom line, though, is that a mutiny did occur outside of the chain of command, and this - rightly or wrongly - reflects upon the leader. It shows that a group of legislators outside of the leadership have so little respect for the leadership that they don't feel vulnerable in publicly humiliating the leader. (Blame McCain all you want, but he couldn't do this alone.) This lack of respect is troubling.

Bill Frist has done an incredible job over the past few years, rising quickly from junior senator to the Senate Majority Leader. In the interests of full disclosure, Bill and I had a falling out in 2001 over his position on stem cell research. It resulted in me saying things to him that were disrespectful, loud, and shameful. That hurt our ties for over a year, but I have since apologized, and I still consider Bill and his fantastic staff as political allies. He has been a great resource for Tennessee.

So, responding directly -

However, unless something changes, I doubt I will be joining JB, Matt, Waterboy, and the other Tennesseans in snowy New Hampshire in early 2008. I would be proud to call Bill Frist my President, if he turned out to be the 2008 GOP nominee. Nonetheless, no matter how much I like Bill and his staffers, I'm not sure if he's a good fit as the leader of the Executive Branch. I certainly like Bill, but I don't know if an outcome that results in him moving into the White House is necessarily the best thing for him (just as it wouldn't be the best thing for Jeb Bush). Assuming today that they all are running (and that is a big assumption with a few names), the list of potential candidates for whom I would be freezing my tookis for in New Hampshire goes as follows:

1) George Allen
2) Tom Tancredo
3) Bill Frist
4) Bill Owens
5) Haley Barbour
6) Sam Brownback
7) Rick Santorum

Now it's early, so that list changes slightly from week-to-week (although Allen has been at the top for quite a while now). This filibuster debacle hasn't altered those rankings one iota, either, although I'm convinced that my feelings are in the minority amongst the electorate.

I hope this clears up where I stand. I don't blame Frist, but the buck in the Senate stops at the Majority Leader's door (well, at least at one of them, since there are several doors to Frist's many offices). He will bear some of the brunt of the fallout (although I suspect that McCain will end up the big loser in this whole episode if, as I suspect, Bush's Supreme Court nominees are filibustered). However, I still like Bill, I feel badly for his unfortunate position in all of this, and he still bears the label as a "conservative," which is about as high a compliment as I can give anyone in D.C. right now.

MORE: Mark Rose provides more editorial comment (and more links) with reaction to the mutiny. My favorite line:

"Right Minded summarizes it this way: Never has one political party (the GOP) accomplished so little with so much. Never has one political party (the Democrats) found itself so devoid of ideas, so lacking in moral clarity, and so unappealing at the ballot box, while accomplishing so much."

Amen. Things need to change in a hurry. Because of the composition of the races in 2006, the GOP doesn't have much to lose in the mid-term elections. However, 2008 is quite another matter.

Wow--you summed it up so well. Every word.

One noteworthy thing about Frist's popularity--it's not the same kind as Fred Thompson's.

Every day people loved Fred--

Bill Frist is in a powerful position--his popularity is kind of like all the new friends a fella gets win he wins the lottery.

It just ain't the same!
How can you have a "falling out" with Sen. Frist when he doesn't even know you exist.

I don't blame Frist. Like I said, I think his heart is in the right place. But I also suspect that having so few years in the Senate, senior men like McCain figure they can walk over him as needed. In fact, I wonder if people like McCain wanted a relative newcomer as majority leader just so they could go their own way whenever they liked.
Good point John Walter.

And anonymous may be right--if Frist doesn't know who Huddleston is, it's because Frist doesn't know who anyone outside of the large donor circle is.

But I'm sure he is quite familiar with Mr. Huddleston and anonymous is just being nasty. I'm sure George Allen will be happy to use Huddleston's obvious capablilities and passion.
Good thing I know UT Law grads, 'cause this isn't speaking well of the demographic. Anyway, comments aplenty at RS if you want to know what you're missing.
Trevino -

I suppose I represent UT Law grads a tad better than you represent the ex-military. (I would post so on your site, but since your site rules don't allow for the sacred founders to be ridiculed, I will post such on this site.) After all, if I were to transplant your callous views of conservatives to the way that military brass views enlisted personnel... Well, they would be about the level of pawns on a chess board and not American heroes, right? It's an uncomfortable analogy, but there is truth in it.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Walter -

Good point. You very well may be right about McCain wanting Frist in the Majority Leader's office for a situation such as this. I wasn't exactly friends with anyone in McCain's office, so I can't really give any insight on that. My closest tie to McCain is Jim Warner, who was a fellow POW with McCain in Vietnam. However, Jim isn't a big fan of McCain's since the birth of the unconstitutional McCain-Feingold boondoggle.


I agree about Thompson. He's the best of the best. But he (unfortunately) isn't interested in being president. Frist is, and I'm supporting him. I do like Allen too though.

Great post.

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