Conservative Losers of the Lame Duck

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 21 2010 5:36 PM

Conservative Losers of the Lame Duck

Let's take a trip back in time to nine days ago. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, two possible 2012 presidential contenders with no skin in the game on current Senate business, opposed both the START Treaty and the tax cut deal . The next-to-final and final votes on this? A 67-28 majority for cloture on START, and an 81-19 majority for the tax deal. A majority of Republicans ended up backing the tax deal.

I bring this up partly to deride, once more, the idea that Palin can command Republicans to go along with her on any issue, and to point out two more things.

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1) Anyone who thinks the Democratic wins of the lame duck bode well for future wins is not paying attention. The reason Democrats are able to pass START, DADT, etc in the lame duck is that they are not particularly controversial bills . They are all popular, and they would have passed in September if Democrats had managed time better. The agenda shifts on a dime when the new Congress comes in.

2) IBD editorializes that Sarah Palin was "vindicated" because she opposed Mike Castle and Lisa Murkowski in primaries, and both of them ended up voting for much of the Democrats' lame duck agenda. Say it again: The lame duck focused on pretty uncontroversial bills, with the exception of DREAM. The bogeymen (bogeybills?) that inspired Tea Party challenges to Castle and Murkowski were cap and trade, card check, and tax increases.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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