There is a good column on the current political landscape in DC today, in the Washington Post:

Republican congressional leaders return to Washington today to confront a political landscape that is considerably more problematic than the one they left two weeks ago, when the House and Senate adjourned for Easter recess.

The searingly emotional Terri Schiavo case…is now fueling claims that party leaders are out of step with mainstream America.

Polling data seems to back this up…at least as it relates to the Schiavo case. It remains to be seen where the American people stand on torture.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), already battling ethics charges, added to his combative reputation by bitterly attacking state and federal judges who rejected pleas to keep the brain-damaged woman alive. Meanwhile, his allies were rattled by criticisms from several conservative publications, including a Wall Street Journal editorial that accused DeLay of abuses that “sooner or later will sweep him out.”

When the WSJ editorial board says something like that, it means that DeLay has lost even his most rabid supporters within the Establishment. He will now attempt to save himself by donning the Shroud of Turin…or something similarly absurd.

:More below:

President Bush’s top priority, restructuring Social Security, made little if any progress despite his all-out campaigning during the recess, key lawmakers said.

We seem to have beaten back this challenge for now…but Karl Rove has just thrown another line in the water to see what bites.

The mixture of issues and events, some top Republicans say, puts the party at a precarious juncture, where it needs to reassure voters that its leaders are ethical and focused on hearth-and-home issues such as jobs, affordable gasoline and secure retirements.

In other words, it needs a new, revamped media campaign of lies and distortions…or another terror warning.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) says Democrats suffered major setbacks in the 1990s when an ethics-challenged leader — House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.), who resigned in 1989 — became a larger symbol of his party than its platform issues. “That’s a cocktail for disaster,” Graham said. If a political leader’s personal problems are coupled with “some policy decisions that are disconnected to the public, then you’ve got an opening” for trouble, he said. “If we don’t watch it, it could happen to us.”

Lindsay Graham is not the worst guy in the world. I think he sees the bigger picture. These quotes are a big jab in DeLay’s ribs, and another indication that the slithering snake is in big trouble.

Also during the recess, former GOP senator John C. Danforth of Missouri, an ordained Episcopal minister, wrote a New York Times op-ed article criticizing his party’s emphasis on opposing stem cell research, same-sex marriage and Schiavo’s husband. “Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians,” he wrote.


DeLay hinted last week that Congress might try to impeach some of the judges involved in the Schiavo case, but other prominent Republicans are urging calm.

Hey Tom? What do roaches do when you turn on the lights?

Even some Republicans who strongly oppose the Democrats’ filibusters are worried that the Schiavo case suggests a GOP drift away from nuts-and-bolts legislation and toward the more polarizing agenda of religious conservatives. “I didn’t come here to make a statement,” said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the former majority leader. “I came here to get results.”

Intervening in Schiavo’s case, he said, “was the morally right thing to do,” but “it really bothered me that the federal government would inject itself into a family medical case.”

Trent Lott, as always, makes no sense. How could it be “the morally right thing to do” if it bothered you that the Federal Government did it?

All in all, things are looking up.

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