Saturday, May 28, 2005

More on the Frist-Flop

A diarist on dKos has posted this entry on Bill Frist's stem cells switch, and he notes the conundrum Frist finds himself in. If he allows the Senate to vote on the expansion of federal funding for stem cell research, he ticks off the right wing of the GOP. If he allows the vote and opposes the measure, he risks being tagged a as a flip-flopper (if it was enough to disqualify Kerry ...); if he supports the bill, he takes a very public stance in opposition to the president, who's said he'll veto the measure.

This is going to be a very tough call for the Majority Leader.


At 10:49 PM, Blogger EG said...

There's one other point about Frist. If he supports the bill, he will alienate a core of the GOP he hopes will vote for him in the 2008 primaries (they already believe he caved on the nuclear option).

He has to flip-flop and oppose the bill. He can explain he has looked deeper at the issue and he believes these are defenseless human beings, blah, blah, blah. The 'Save Terri' crowd will eat that up.

Kerry wasn't disqualified because he changed his vote but because he had such a weak argument to explain his change. The 'I was for it before I was against it' line made him the butt of late night comics for weeks.

At 1:58 AM, Anonymous Simon said...

I think EG hit the nail on the head about Kerry - the problem wasn't that he changed his mind (Justice Harlan used to say that he was "right rather than consistent"), it was that his changability seemed to stem not from an alteration of circumstance ("when the facts change, sir, I change my mind; what do you do?"), but rather, from a chronically indecisive mind and a lack of firm conviction.

I write separately to note that Mark Tushnet - writing about Larry Tribe today at Balkinization - offers a quote from Justice Jackson that Bill Frist might find useful: a way to explain why he changed his mind, as he doubtlessly will:

"Baron Bramwell extricated himself from a somewhat similar embarrassment by saying, 'The matter does not appear to me now as it appears to have appeared to me then.' . . . But an escape less self-depreciating was taken by Lord Westbury, who, it is said, rebuffed a barrister's reliance upon an earlier opinion of his Lordship: 'I can only say that I am amazed that a man of my intelligence should have been guilty of giving such an opinion.' If there are other ways of gracefully and good naturedly surrendering former views to a better considered position, I invoke them all."

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Tom - doubts and all said...

Alas, poor Senator Frist, has no recourse to humorous retort. The quotes Tribe uses above require a twinkle in the eye and an above the fray demeanor to pull off effectively.

Frist's deer-in-the-headlights look and world weary posture of late seem better suited to whines and sighs than cleverness and wit.


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