The GOP forms a circular firing squad

Isn’t it wonderful to watch Republicans behaving like Democrats? One of the GOP’s big advantages in recent years has been its ability to keep internal squabbles quiet and the willingness of its damaged leaders (Gingrich, Livingstone) to get off the stage quickly to minimize the damage. Not this time, though.

Lott is drawing fire from hard-line conservatives (on non-racial issues) who appear to be only too happy to use the current flap to force him out. It turns out (who knew?) that the right-wing purists have always disliked Lott because he was more a pork-barreler than he was someone who, as a friend of mine said yesterday of Don Nickles, “looks through every appropriation to see if there’s something in it that helps poor people, so he can cut it out.” That helps explain why Nickles still hasn’t uttered a word of support for his leader. Lott, on the other hand, is pulling a Lani Gunier, and threatening to do worse:

… in a sign of the Lott camp’s concerns, some allies are quietly suggesting to GOP senators that Lott might resign from the Senate if he is forced out as leader, a move that could jeopardize the party’s one-seat majority. Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) presumably would appoint a Democrat to replace Lott, they note. That would leave the Senate evenly split, enabling Democrats to regain the majority if they could persuade a moderate Republican to switch parties.

That threat has to be a bluff, but it’s nice to think about, isn’t it?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: