Thursday, November 04, 2004

BALANCE OF POWER With Republicans now enjoying a 55-45 seat advantage in the Senate, what's to prevent President Bush from nominating, say, Roy Moore to be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

Here are the five senators to keep an eye on:

Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island)
Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota)
Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
But even if all five opposed a particularly radical nominee, the result would still be a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Cheney tipping the balance in the nominee's favor.

So the Senate's five Republican moderates would need the help of socially conservative but secular-minded John McCain (R-Arizona) to defeat a truly fringe candidate.

Of course, Karl Rove has undoubtedly thought long and hard about where McCain and the others are likely to draw the line.

And everything we've learned about Rove suggests he'll edge up as close to that line as he can.

UPDATE: This piece from the Week in Review section of The New York Times tackles the flip-side of the issue: Swing-state and conservative Democrats who might back the President on key issues.

Because of who he represents, Max Baucus (D-Montana) might seem particularly susceptible to pressure from the White House. But his voting record suggests otherwise.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.