Carol Platt Liebau: Has Lott Given Frist (and W) the "Pepsi" Gesture?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Has Lott Given Frist (and W) the "Pepsi" Gesture?

Anyone who's been following this blog knows what the "Pepsi gesture" is -- it's vulgar and it involves the middle finger.

Wouldn't it be interesting if this whole outrageous judicial "compromise" was, in actuality, the result of Trent Lott's dislike of his successor, Bill Frist, and his bitterness toward The White House?

Check out this piece from the LA Times. Interesting. So the deal was originally born in a friendly little tete-a-tete between moderate Democrat Ben Nelson and conservative Trent Lott.

Nelson, up in '06 in a very red state, has great incentives to avoid a showdown that would force him either to defy his party or run the risk of alienating voters that he'll need, and soon. But why would a conservative Mississippian, safely ensconced in his seat, want to compromise with the Democrats?

Well, try this on for size. Sure, Lott cares about the "traditions of the Senate" -- but even more, he cares that he was ignominiously forced to resign as Majority Leader after some unfortunate remarks in praise of Strom Thurmond. Lott might well have survived the brouhaha had some support been forthcoming from The White House -- but it wasn't. Everyone there was eager to see Bill Frist take over.

Southerners have long memories. Three years carrying a grudge -- why, that's nothing. And now, Lott has his perfect revenge: Bill Frist's leadership has been exposed as weak and ineffective, his presidential ambitions gravely (if not fatally) wounded. (As Hugh Hewitt pointed out yesteday, "If Senator Frist can't talk Ohio's Mike DeWine and and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham off the ledge, voters will wonder how he can talk Great Britain and Italy into future coalitions of the willing.").

True, The White House has gotten three of its prize nominees confirmed -- but it's contending with a very angry base, and the very real possibility of a bloody (and now unpredictable) Senate filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in a situation where the principles at stake have been hopelessly blurred.

Best of all, Lott's name isn't even on the deal. It didn't need to be -- not when there are weak-minded or egomaniacal "compromisers" to rush into the breach.

It would be pretty clever trick, wouldn't it? Talk about a dish best served cold . . .


Blogger Bachbone said...

I heard (can't recall the show the soundbite was aired on) Lott say he wasn't about to help out people who had so easily thrown him overboard. So, yes, there is some payback here. However, if Lott thinks the GOP, or its base, is going to come running back to him to save them, he is badly mistaken. Lott was no better than Frist at leading. Just ask Henry Hyde. After he and the House Managers did all the tough Clinton impeachment work, Lott essentially gave Hyde the "Pepsi gesture." Lott, also, thought Kelly Flynn, B-52 pilot, who was caught fooling around with a married enlisted man, was being picked on because she was a woman. In fact, he had his foot in his mouth on a number of other occasions while Senate leader. No, Sen. Lott has very little chance of getting his old job back, if you ask me.

6:32 PM  

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