December 21, 2002

JOE CONASON, WHO ARE YOU... (by David Weigel)

JOE CONASON, WHO ARE YOU FOOLING?: Joe Conason, the bitter New York Observer columnist who's now better known for his bitter blog, is falling over himself to shame "the Senate" (I guess he means Republican senators) for falling for "the designs of Karl Rove." From the chunk available to non-premiumites:

Whatever marvelous qualities Sen. Bill Frist may possess, he has served one term in the Senate, and has pledged to serve no more than two. On the institutional merits, Frist's candidacy for majority leader is a joke.

The last Republican to run for majority leader after one full term was ... um ... Trent Lott, actually. He had been a senator for less than 8 years when he defeated the senior Thad Cochran to replace Bob Dole. Frist actually has a couple months on him. Marvelous qualities? As I've pointed out (if I may link to my own writings in a Altermanesque fashion) Frist was the chairman of the most successful round of Republican Senate campaigns since 1994 - and that's a role that has become a sort of proving ground for future leaders, as the (recently invented) leader job becomes more and more focused on photo ops. If he does choose to retire in 2006, as he reiterated as recently as 2000, he may still serve four years in the leadership - hardly a "joke." And Frist's public statements to Tennessee papers have been less frequent and vehement than those of Paul Wellstone, who broke the exact same pledge in 2002. So he might stay after all.

Watching a few hours of CNN, Fox and the other channel today, I heard at least four mentions of the fact that Frist is "only in his second term." And coming after the Diulio "Karl Rove runs the country with politics" furor, this is a problem ... how?

Stick to the racist smears, Salon.

Posted by John Tabin at December 21, 2002 04:17 AM