I was originally going to title this missive "Lapdog" but it just seemed to obvious. I went with "Secret Weapon" because I believe that Bill Frist is an often overlooked component when it comes to the national dominance of the GOP over the last four years. Installed in 2003 as the Senate Majority Leader, Frist has perhaps had closer ties with the White House than any majority leader in recent history. And it is through these ties that Bush/Cheney/Rove have effectively controlled almost every piece of legislation to come out of the Senate, and to a larger extend, out of the entire Congress itself.
I made a comment over at one of the big blogs, and I opined that there is a big difference between Bush crony and a run-of-the-mill Republican. Former Senate leader Trent Lott is what I would call a Republican while Frist is a Bush crony through and through. I did a little Wikipedia search on Lott in order to refresh my memory of on the whole Lott/fall from grace thing. For those not aware, Lott was slated to become majority leader in 2003 after the Republicans gained seats in the '02 midterms. A month after the election, Lott was in attendance at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party and he had some complementary things to say about Thurmond and his run for president as a Dixiecrat in '48. Here's what he said, courtesy of Wikipedia:
"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."Though the remarks can be read a number of ways - a tacit approval of Thurmond's racial segregation platform all the way to a meaningless compliment to an very old man on his birthday - they caused quite an uproar. A number of Republicans brushed it off as more of the latter than the former and I tend to wonder if the thing wouldn't have died down over time if not for Bush expressing his moral outrage a few days later. It was Bush's remarks that effectively ended any hope of Lott gaining the majority leader position, allowing Frist to assume the position with Bush's full support. Lott has maintained on a number of occasions that it was the Bush/Rove machine that drove him out of the leadership position, and it is a position he still holds. To me, it makes an awful lot of sense. Granted, Rove didn't stick his hand of Lott's ass and play "ventriloquist" with him, making him say what he said, but Bushco certainly didn't miss this opportunity to remove a senator who was not as controllable as they might like and replace him with someone who apparently doesn't mind having Rove's hand you-know-where.
All of this brings me to today's announcement that Fristy is once again being the good little White House stooge as he actually threatens to filibuster (and here I thought only obstructionist Democrats did that sort of thing) a national security bill because it does not allow Bush to torture people. The current bill have strong bipartisan support in the Senate and it would appear that the Republicans that crossed the aisle on this subject are firm in their commitment to not allow the United States to further lose its moral authority in the world by allowing torture. He has made his intentions clear that the bill as written and supported by a majority of the Senate is dead and will not be allowed to pass. He has effectively drawn a line in the sand and he will not waver from standing from standing with Bush on this.
Frist has been a key contributor to the notion that there really isn't any sort of checks and balances among the three branches of government. His actions on this bill are another clear indication of this concept. In Bushworld, the president is king and Frist apparently sees himself as a faithful servant, always ready to do the king's bidding. I find it mindnumbingly hilarious that Frist envisions himself a viable candidate for president in two years. He'll be retiring from the senate next January, no doubt to clear up his schedule to campaign. It's just amazing that a guy who has acted as Bush's inside man in the Senate can somehow expect voters to not to notice that for the past four years he's been nothing but a stooge for the White House.
It'll be interesting the watch if nothing else.