The virtues of Senate leaders who don't care much about the Senate
Writing the last post got me thinking a bit about Bill Frist's admirable willingness to trash the traditions of the Senate and pursue the interests of his party. Arlen Specter straying? Strip him of his committee chairmanship. Democrats filibustering too many judicial nominees? Threaten to end the judicial filibuster.
That's hardball. It's not surprising given the importance of these issues, but it is surprising given the rarity with which the game is played like that. But maybe the answer lies in Frist's relatively short tenure: He was barely into his second term when he became Senate majority leader. By contrast, Reid became minority leader in 2005, but has served in Congress since 1982. Similarly, Tom Daschle went to Washington in 1979, and Trent Lott arrived in 1973. These guys had a lot more time to become interested and invested in the workings of the body. Frist had fairly little time to build up an identity as a member of this hallowed institution called Congress, and seemed more interested in gearing up for a presidential run, anyway.
Photo credit: Image used under a CC license from the Wikimedia Commons.
November 24, 2009; 12:28 PM ET
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