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Posts - June 1-3

6/2 - Ben: The Wall Street Journal and Tom Daschle (permanent link)
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As the pundits of the right have started to move past accusations of betrayal against Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords for leaving the Republican Party, the spin enters phase two - the increasing attack on new majority leader Tom Daschle.

In an editorial yesterday, the Wall Street Journal says that the "hyper-partisan" Daschle is moving too fast to take control of the Senate. In a stretch of the truth that might even impress Bill Clinton, it says that the power sharing agreement Daschle and former majority leader Trent Lott agreed upon when the Senate was 50-50 is still in effect, because it says it is only invalidated when "either party attains a majority of the whole number of Senators." The WSJ correctly points out that Jeffords is becoming an independent, leaving the Democrats with 50 senators, while a majority of the whole is 51. Jeffords, however, has said he will caucus with Democrats for organizational purposes. The Senate, of course, is not organized by what party members are registered with, but which party they vote for when it comes to organization. So for the purposes of the senate, the Democrats now have a majority.

Such a basic understanding of the working of the U.S. Senate, however, wouldn't let the Journal get away with calling Daschle "hyper-partisan." Nor would a fair judgment of the nomination of Ted Olson (for more on the rhetorical battle over Olson, see Brendan Nyhan's article "The Olson Reversal") allow the Journal to claim Daschle is clearly not interested in "accommodating" Bush's nominations, as he said he would, because nearly all Democrats opposed Olson. Daschle, however, is just one among 50 Democrats (as the Journal reminded us earlier) and Olson was easily one of President Bush's most controversial nominees.

Rather than end with yet another attack on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, though, we here at Spinsanity prefer to focus on the positive. Near the end, the Journal says that a standoff over control of the Senate would be "bizarre and untenable" and that "cooler heads must start to meet." Sounds good to us. Of course, we would have preferred it without the truth-bending assault on Tom Daschle.

Related items on Spinsanity:
-Bryan Keefer, Daschle-bashing 102 - Armchair psychology and the "energy crisis", 5/30 post
-Brendan Nyhan, Hillary II and civics lessons for pundits (5/29 post)
-Brendan Nyhan, The illegitimacy attack / Daschle-bashing (5/25 post)
-Bryan Keefer, Jeffords war of words (5/24 post)

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