Here's some Thursday morning reading for you:Robert "Count Chocula" Novak's latest column demonstrates why Mitch McConnell is in trouble and bringing the GOP Senate caucus down with him:
Listening to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last weekend boast he had the votes to prevent closing Senate debate on Iraq, Republicans opposing President Bush's troop surge in Iraq feared the worst. The new Republican leader sounded as though he wanted to prevent passage of an anti-surge resolution at the cost of making his party look obstructionist. That's exactly what happened.Unlike Harry Reid, McConnell doesn't understand how to lead a party in the minority. As McConnell continues to make strategic blunders, it will continue to make the GOP Senate caucus look bad. And, hopefully, this will help push those GOP Senators considering retirement to ultimately decide on it.
McConnell's tactics resulted in no resolution passed by the Senate any time soon. The White House was overjoyed. But Tuesday's newspaper headlines indicated a public relations fiasco for Republicans: "GOP Stalls Debate On Troop Increase" (Washington Post); "In Senate, GOP Blocks a Debate Over Iraq Policy" (New York Times); "Vote on Iraq is Blocked by GOP" (USA Today). Considering that outcome from a tactical victory, the Republicans might be better off with a strategic defeat. It is unclear who won in the Senate this week.
Virginia: John Warner's back-and-forth on debating the Iraq escalation is chronicled succinctly:
Two days after voting to block action on his resolution opposing a troop surge in Iraq, Sen. John Warner of Virginia reversed course late Wednesday by threatening to attach his measure to any applicable bill pending in the Senate.Warner seems to be number one on that list of Senators equivocating between retirement and re-election. And it also seems like he is already getting supremely frustrated serving in the minority party again. Perhaps this will help push him toward a decision of retirement.
The about-face came after war critics attacked Warner for allegedly abandoning his stand against President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.
Illinois: Dick Durbin gets the importance of early fundraising:
Sen. Dick Durbin is kicking off a fund-raising blitz for his 2008 re-election campaign on Sunday at a brunch hosted by Democrats Susan and Lew Manilow. ...The IL-GOP is in shambles right now, and their last Senate race in 2004 was an embarrassment for the GOP. Add in aggressive fundraising by Durbin, Obama-mania in Illinois, and a lack of support from the NRSC (with several other tighter races to worry about), and you will likely see Durbin get his wish of nothing more than token opposition.
Durbin wants millions of dollars in his war chest as soon as possible to make any GOP multimillionaire think twice about the cost of challenging him. Durbin wants to raise the financial bar so high no one but a rookie, long shot or no-name Republican will bother to run.
New Jersey: In another showing of his seriousness about re-election, Frank Lautenberg is loaning his campaign a cool million bucks. While this potentially allows possible opponents to accept larger individual contributions, it also makes a statement that any Republican who may challenge Lautenberg will have to commit themselves to raising considerable resources.