12 November 2006

You Go To War With The Senate You Have

It is now clear that the Republicans lost the House some months ago and they arguably managed to limit the damage. (On the other hand, the failure of the New Hampshire Republican incumbents to recognize the danger and run as if it were their last campaign calls even that conclusion into question.) But losing the Senate was a purely self-inflicted wound, brought to us thanks to the stupidest fringes of the Stupid Party; the people for whom National Review Online purports to speak. A little accommodation and we could easily have squeezed one more Senator out of the electorate.

How ever we got here, here we are. Fortunately, on the two most important questions likely to be decided by the Senate, conservatives have been more fortunate than we deserve. The Democrats have 51 Senators, but do not have a majority on either of the big two issue: the war in Iraq and Supreme Court Justices.

The war in Iraq is in the capable hands of Joe Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has asked to be identified as an "Independent Democrat" and, if that were not enough to give Harry Reid nightmares, has already suggested that he could possibly caucus with the Republicans. Lieberman is a liberal, he could never join the Republicans on, for example, confirming a real conservative to the Supreme Court, but he is absolutely trustworthy on the war. If he would going to cut and run, he would already have done so. Because he can, simply by abstaining, bring the entire Democratic Senate tumbling down, Lieberman owns any issue he cares about, and he cares about the war.

The fate of any Supreme Court nominations are less clear, but there is good reason to hope that a real conservative can be confirmed. Every Democratic Senator makes the difference here, but let's focus on James Webb. Webb is an odd duck on the Democratic side. He is more conservative than a number of Republicans. The President will have to worry more about satisfying Olympia Snowe than James Webb. I am assuming, however, that when it comes to the Supreme Court, the Democrats won't dare to either filibuster or lock up in committee an acceptable conservative nominee.

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