A handful of notable losses notwithstanding — Tom Perriello, Alan Grayson, Phil Hare — a goodly number of the House Democrats who lost seats on Tuesday were of the Blue Dog or New Democrat variety, and the whirlwind they reaped was partly of their own making. Looks to me like Third Way-style corporate shilling just isn’t the answer.
Rather, the most painful loss of the night for progressives happened on the Senate side, when Russ Feingold fell to an idiotic Ayn Rand disciple, businessman Ron Johnson. (Wisconsin, the state of both Bob LaFollette and Joe McCarthy, is a strange place.) From fighting against the Patriot Act to calling for accountability on the illegal NSA wiretaps to, of course, battling for campaign finance reform, Feingold was often a lonely voice of conscience in the Senate, and his progressive leadership will be sorely missed there.
Of course, the fight goes on, so let’s hope Feingold will be back in public life someday soon. Big Russ has ruled out a 2012 primary shot, but if Wisconsin’s other Senator, Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl, should decide to retire in 2012 at the age of 77, Feingold would be a great candidate to go toe-to-toe against yet another “Galtian nincompoop” of the first order, current GOP golden boy Paul Ryan.
“Truth be told, I never even heard the name ‘Washington, D.C.’ until I decided to run for the Senate. When I am elected, I will have no idea how to get there or where I’m supposed to go. Will there be buildings there? Is it temperate, rainy, hot, or arid? Do people speak English in this place, this Washington, D.C.?“
Senator Russ Feingold’s Rand-loving opponent and possible successor, Ron Johnson, sums up his idiot philosophy in The Onion. “For the past 17 years Russ Feingold has done nothing but let down the people of this great state, or territory, or place, or whatever this is. He’s a D.C. insider who has well-thought-out positions on issues. I don’t know what issues are.“
I’ll reserve comment on the midterms as a whole until after we’re through the gauntlet or the ship is wrecked, one way or another. Still, as per the norm, The Onion has been deadly on-point throughout this cycle.
“‘Obviously, it’s a very difficult issue and evokes a lot of emotions,’ Feingold said in a telephone interview yesterday. ‘I think it’s something ultimately that people throughout the country will accept, but it’s not an easy issue.’” Unlike many of his Dem colleagues (and potential rivals in 2008), Feingold comes out for legalizing same-sex marriage. “Feingold noted that removing the prohibition against gay marriage would not impose any obligation on religious groups. He indicated that no religious faith should ever be forced to conduct or recognize any marriage, but that civil laws on marriage should reflect the principle of equal rights under the law.“
Faced with the prospect of his state losing its disproportionate influence on presidential campaigns, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch (D) begins twisting the arms of possible presidential candidates in 2008, with Evan Bayh the first to cry uncle. “New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has assiduously avoided taking a position on the issue despite personal urgings by Lynch to do so. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner, the hot ‘anti-Hillary’ candidate these days, is similarly noncommittal.” Pushing back on New Hampshire’s entreaties are Bill Richardson (New Mexico) and John Edwards (North Carolina), for obvious reasons. Feingold is also uncommitted (as far as I know), although one would think that, as an independent-minded maverick, he’d be a prime candidate for an early Granite State boost. That is, provided John McCain doesn’t suck all the air out of the state, as he did in 2000 versus Bradley.
“‘We know the president broke the law,’ Leahy said. ‘Now we need to know why.’” With the Dems — except for Feingold and Leahy — AWOL yet again, the Senate Judiciary Committee debates Feingold’s censure resolution and hears testimony from former Nixon counsel John Dean, who is back before Congress for the first time since Watergate. Said Feingold at one point: “If you want the words ‘bad faith’ in [the censure resolution], let’s put them right in, because that’s exactly what we have here…The lawbreaking is shocking in itself, but the defiant way that the president has persisted in defending his actions with specious legal arguments and misleading statements is part of what led me to conclude that censure is a necessary step.” Said the rest of the committee Dems (Kennedy, Biden, Kohl, Feinstein, Schumer, Durbin): Nothing.
“‘There seems to be a disconnect between the rhetoric in Washington about what this is all about and what we hear here,’ Feingold said. McCain responded that he did ‘not want to get into a back-and-forth with one of my best friends.’” While visiting Baghdad, Senators McCain and Feingold argue “cordially and pointedly” over Iraq. “Feingold…said he was dismayed not to hear any of the military commanders he met with mention al-Qaeda as a source of the problems in Iraq. The Bush administration and U.S. officials here often point to the radical group as a major source of instability in the country.“
“‘I haven’t read it,’ demurred Barack Obama (Ill.). ‘I just don’t have enough information,’ protested Ben Nelson (Neb.).” As Senator Tom Harkin signs on as a co-sponsor of Russ Feingold’s censure resolution — which, word has it, is also now backed by John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Robert Menendez — the Post‘s Dana Milbank watches the rest of our party head for the hills. “Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.). ‘Ask her after lunch’ offered Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.”
“This is clearly more serious than anything President Clinton was accused of. It is reminiscent of what President Nixon was not only accused of doing but was basically removed from office for doing.”/em> As Senator Feingold continues his lonely push for a censure resolution, the GOP go into full “soft on terror” attack mode, while most Dems — of course — commence to hemming and hawing. “Reid…commended [Feingold] ‘for bringing this to the attention of the American people. We need a full and complete debate on this NSA spying.’ Reid and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) told reporters they wanted to examine the resolution before endorsing or rejecting it.” The world is watching, Dems: Get up and fight!
“This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors….We, as a Congress, have to stand up to a president who acts like the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on Sept 11.” On This Week, Senator Feingold calls for a censure of Dubya for, “openly and almost thumbing his nose at the American people,” continuing the NSA warrantless wiretaps. (The censure resolution is here.) Catkiller Frist — flush from his straw poll win over the weekend — responded by calling the censure a “terrible, terrible signal” to give the evildoers. It’s “terrible” to show respect for the rule of law? Get real. It’s about time somebody in the AWOL Senate stood up to this administration’s repeated abuses of power. Update: Feingold writes more on the censure. (Via Medley.)
“‘The die has now been cast,’ acknowledged the law’s chief opponent, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis….’Obviously at this point, final passage of the reauthorization bill is now assured.‘” As expected, most Senate Dems — no doubt aiming to protect their national security flank in the upcoming elections — join in voting 84-15 to end another Feingold filibuster, thus sending the barely-revised Patriot Act along for likely passage. “‘No one has the right to turn this body into a rubber stamp,’ said Feingold, the leading opponent of the law in Congress. ‘The White House played hardball and the decision was made by some to capitulate.‘” Good God, our party is pathetic at times. Update: The Senate passes the Patriot Act, 89-10.
“Treason is a strong word, but not too strong to characterize the situation in which the Senate is the eager, resourceful, and indefatigable agent of interests as hostile to the American people as any invading army could be.” As feared — the Senate GOP, including supposed “moderates” Snowe and Chafee — vote down hearings into the NSA wiretaps. And also as feared, the Senate Dems completely collapse on the Patriot Act renewal, joining the Republicans to end the Feingold filibuster 96-3. (Only Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT) sided with Russ.) So, with the Senate in effect abdicating its responsibilty as an independent and coequal branch of government, it looks like it’ll be up to the judiciary to check Dubya’s executive powergrab.
“It took a long time for Democrats to step up and challenge the administration’s baseless assertions that the Patriot Act could not be changed without threatening the security of the American people. When we finally did so, when we decided to make the case that we can fight terrorism and protect our American principles at the same time, it looked like Democrats were finally ready to stand on principle and offer strong leadership. Instead, too many Democrats have folded, and momentum for critical changes to the Patriot Act to protect our freedoms has been squandered.” In Salon, an angry Russ Feingold calls out his party for capitulating on the Patriot Act extension. Ugh. Are the Democrats irreparably broken at this point? Does our party leadership lack all conviction? At this point, the evidence is piling up against them, and, if we don’t get our act together, we’re going to lose our best chance in a decade to take back Congress this November. Update: Feingold filibusters alone.
The Specter hearings into the illegal NSA wiretaps begin, and, so far despite Specter’s tough talk on Sunday, they’ve been pretty much a sideshow. For one, as they did with Big Oil, the GOP ensured by a 10-8 party-line vote that Gonzales didn’t have to testify under oath. For another, Gonzales has been falling back on the ridiculous Article 2 defense and saying little of import as of yet. Still, at least Republicans like Specter and Lindsey Graham are joining Feingold and others in calling out the administration’s dubious rationale for the Imperial Presidency, so perhaps these hearings may be of some service yet. Update: As the NYT points out, we’ve been here before. Update 2: Dahlia Lithwick is not amused.
With a tip-off from the Progressive Patriots Fund, I had the opportunity yesterday to catch Sen. Russ Feingold speak on the Patriot Act and the NSA wiretapping scandal over at Cardozo Law School. (Their pics are a lot better than mine — I forgot to charge my batteries, and thus only got in 2 or 3 shots before my camera died on me.) And how was he? Well, all-in-all, he came off as a convincing candidate for the election ahead, as well as an impressive, informed, and personable fellow. To be honest, I found his remarks a bit lawyerly (then again, he’s a lawyer speaking before a law school, so that’s not really a fair criticism), but, taken in full, he seemed a committeed progressive and a refreshingly candid leader, the type of dynamic, independent thinker the Senate should be teeming with, if the system came anywhere close to working these days.
The gist of Sen. Feingold’s remarks was thus: Al Qaeda is the central threat facing America and has been since 9/11. Yet, instead of bringing the nation together to eliminate this terrorist organization, the Dubya White House has chosen time and time again to endanger our national security and compromise our most fundamental American values for their own ideological or power-hoarding purposes. (Iraq, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, secret gulags, you name it.) Along those lines and as we now all know, the Patriot Act, which only Feingold voted against in 2001, contains some terrible provisions therein, the most notorious example affecting Middle America being Section 215 (which gives law enforcement, among other things, the right to see what you’ve been reading.)
Yet, as per the norm, Dubya has refused to admit that it’s even possible that something might be wrong with the Patriot Act now that it’s up for renewal — only that it’s necessary to defeat the evildoers and that any microscopic change in the statute could rend the fabric of freedom irreparably. (Despite this now-somewhat hoary ploy, Feingold and others have succeeded in blocking a permanent blanket extension for now, as y’all know if you’ve been visiting here lately.) And, of course, Dubya has taken this same tack of obfuscation and fear-mongering to cover up his brazen wiretapping power-grab — which, according to Congress’s own research arm, broke at least two laws and counting.
Again, this story is not news to many Dems out there, but Feingold laid it out in clear, comprehensible, and systematic fashion. (The only “breaking news” made was the Senator announcing this letter to Gonzales, asking him why he, in effect, lied to the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings about the NSA wiretaps.) And he had some good lines throughout — In reply to Rove’s ridiculous claim that Dems were “pre-9/11″, Feingold quipped that the GOP suffered from a “pre-1776″ mentality these days. (He also retold the recent Patrick Henry exchange.) To be honest, I’d liked to have heard more in this vein — In terms of breaking down the legislative legerdemain and legal issues at hand, Feingold was superb. But I thought the speech needed more narrative sweep and rhetorical grandeur, more explanation of why this battle matters so much to the workings of the republic. He doesn’t have to turn into Robert Byrd overnight. Still, I thought the remarks could have benefited from more dramatic heft and historical resonance: Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Lincoln, Wilson…they’re all relevant here. (Then again, as I said above, I was an historian sitting in a room full of lawyers, so I was a tougher sell than most.)
Along those lines, if there was a problem with this presentation, it’s that the Senator, while clearly outraged, at times seemed much less livid about all this than many in the audience, who occasionally sounded ready to hoist the black flag. (In fact, many will no doubt be happy to hear that Feingold was asked twice “why Democrats are so lame.” As he noted (and as the blogosphere can attest this week), if a crowd in New York City is this irate with the party, the Dems might be in serious trouble nationwide in November. Still, he also emphasized that the Democrats could be more effective fighters if they actually controlled a house of Congress — You can’t hold hearings if you’re in the minority.
In terms of other questions, Feingold said he supports and will take part in the very late-developing (and now already defunct) Alito filbuster (Roll Call.) In fact, he thought the Dems made a crucial mistake in capitulating to the original “Gang of 14″ compromise, arguing cogently that Dems have seen nothing for it and may well have had the votes to win Catkiller‘s game of nuclear chicken. Since Casino Jack and lobbying reform seemed too big a subject to address competently in the time allotted, I asked him a question about his thoughts on the NYT decision to spike the NSA story for a year, his general view of the mass media’s performance in serving as a check on these types of executive abuses, and (’cause it seemed apropos) his thoughts on the burgeoning blogosphere’s role in all this. He didn’t really go after the Times decision, and said that, in terms of the recent Patriot Act debate, he thought the press had actually done an ok job. Regarding blogs, he called the Internet “a miracle for populist politics,” which was a good enough soundbite that everyone in my row dutifully wrote it down at the same time.
And, of course, Sen. Feingold was asked — a couple of times — whether or not he was running for President in 2008. Naturally, he played it coy — After all, we still have just under two years before the Iowa caucus. But, for what it’s worth, I was impressed by him — He’s not a first-class emoter like Edwards or Clinton, of course. Instead, he comes across as a highly intelligent, capable, and nuanced thinker, a la Bradley, Kerry, or Gore on his better days. But unlike those three, he also seemed much more comfortable in his own skin, more naturally himself at the podium, and — most importantly — more content to play the maverick if his lefty principles dictate thus. (Although, as I said, I’d like to see him tone down the lawyer-ese and rev up more Wellstone-ish fire if he does make a White House run.) I suppose there’s a small, bordering-on-infinitesimal chance that Rodham Clinton, Biden, Warner, or someone else might drop all the “New Democrat” protective camouflage this time around and begin loudly and undefensively proclaiming progressive principles to the Heavens. But, until that unlikely event, my candidate in the 2008 Democratic primary is Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. (Update: 1776 link via Medley.)
Unable to defeat the Feingold-led filibuster, the Senate GOP instead decide to punt with a six-month extension of the Patriot Act. Dubya originally said he’d veto a three-month stopgap, and the Republicans have been fervently against previous Democratic calls for a temporary extension…but at this point it sounds like the White House and GOP will take what they can get. (Feingold’s reaction: It’s “a victory for the American people.”) Update: Make that a month.
“I don’t want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care.” Aided by today’s shocking revelation that the NSA has been monitoring thousands of international calls without a warrant since 2002, a group of Senators led by Russ Feingold — and including four Republicans (Craig, Hagel, Murkowski, and Sununu) — succeed in defeating an extension of the Patriot Act. At this point, I might as well put a Feingold 2008 banner over on the sidebar — Ever since the McCain-Feingold days, the Senator from Wisconsin has continued to rise in my esteem, and this once again proves his mettle as our most forthright and committed progressive standard-bearer. Bravo!
Apparently the House and Senate have decided on a compromise over the Patriot Act, one that will theoretically reduce the disturbing number of FBI terrorism inquiries via fuller reporting. The bill is now being put on the fast track by the GOP, so as to give Dubya a much-needed boost on his terror credentials, which means the Patriot Act, warts and all, may be made permanent by Thanksgiving. Update: Feingold leads a bipartisan charge against the bill.
A true Dubya conservative? Aside from the usual Federalist Society wingnuttery, Judge Samuel Alito also appears to have some considerable conflict-of-interest problems on his record. “Alito had at least $390,000 in Vanguard mutual funds when he ruled in a 2002 case that favored the company. After a party to the suit complained, he stepped aside and another panel of judges reheard the case. Alito also ruled in a 1996 case involving Smith Barney, which was his brokerage firm.” This probably won’t derail his nomination by itself, but, still, Judiciary Committee members Kennedy and Feingold, among others, want answers.
“There has never been more frustration with the war in Iraq, and less clarity about our mission there, than we face today…And while we haven’t heard the administration clearly articulate our military mission in Iraq, there is another silence that is just as deafening — the lack of a debate in Congress about how and when that mission will be brought to an end.” Over at Salon, Sen. Russ Feingold argues for a timetable in Iraq, or at the very least a congressional debate on the issue.
“Even a criminal like myself is shocked that millions are not able to get health insurance and cannot pay for basic surgery. Who are these power brokers that allow the pigpen to become wormy and filthy? I demand your very lives, but I am not such an imbecile as to institutionalize suffering and poverty. You have my assurance that this shall change swiftly.” Three years to go and the 2008 slate is already filling up. For the Dems: Hillary, Biden, Bayh, Warner, and Feingold. For the GOP: Frist, McCain, and Brownback. And, although Chris Walken first seemed to have the Indy vote locked up (let’s face it, Cthulhu‘s missed His shot), word is the inimitable General Zod is now coming on strong. Hmmm. I could definitely see him pulling a Stockdale at some point in the debate. (By way of LinkMachineGo.)
“When my party retakes the White House, there may very well be a Democratic John Roberts nominated to the Court, a man or woman with outstanding qualifications, highly respected by virtually everyone in the legal community, and perhaps with a paper trail of political experience or service on the progressive side of the ideological spectrum. When that day comes, and it will, that will be the test for this Committee and the Senate. And, in the end, it is one of the central reasons I will vote to confirm Judge John Roberts to be perhaps the last Chief Justice of the United States in my lifetime.”
By a vote of 13-5, John Roberts is approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee — with Dems Patrick Leahy, Herb Kohl, and Russ Feingold joining the Republican majority — and will no doubt become the Court’s next Chief Justice. The Dems — and particularly Sen. Feingold — are already getting flak for their Yes votes from People for the American Way and other liberal groups. (For their part, Hillary and Joe Biden have decided to keep the 2008 primary voters happy.) Well, just as I think Feingold was right to vote yes on Ashcroft in 2001, I think he made the correct decision here, both in terms of principle and politics.
In terms of principle, I think Feingold’s statement above is exactly correct. We could go through 1000 nominees, and Dubya would never pick anyone who comes remotely close to being a progressive — Sadly, the conservative tinge of the Supreme Court was decided last November, with Dubya’s re-election. The question before the Senate was whether Roberts was (a) competent enough to fill the position of Chief and (b) whether he adhered to the broad mainstream (albeit conservative mainstream) of American legal thought. I watched almost all of the Roberts hearings and, although he dodged and weaved past way too many important questions, he was clearly (a) hyper-competent and (b) more respectful of existing legal precedent than many other conservative freakshows Dubya could have appointed (and might still.) Roberts said a number of times that he believed in a constitutional right to privacy, that Griswold was good and settled law, and that (although most agree on this anyway, Janice Rogers Brown notwithstanding) the Lochner Court was not an appropriate or worthwhile historical role model for today’s judiciary. Perhaps he’s lying, but it’s no small business to lie before the Senate. I think Feingold was right to take his word at face value and vote yes, with reservations.
Voting for or against a 50-year-old Chief Justice is not a decision to be taken lightly, and I’m sure Dems on both sides of the vote chose their stance on principle. But, to be base for a moment and consider the politics of the situation, the Yes voters allowed themselves wiggle-room on the next nominee that most Dems have basically wasted on a sure thing. Roberts is replacing Rehnquist, a conservative for a conservative. The real battle lies ahead, when Dubya appoints a justice to take O’Connor’s swing-vote position. Where are the Dems who voted no on Roberts going to go? Chances are the next candidate for justice will be less competent and more conservative, in the scary-fundy sense, than Roberts, but the no-voting Dems have lost all pull by not keeping their powder dry. Had the Dems acceded to Roberts’ nomination, they would have easier recourse to a possible filibuster in Round 2, particularly with the fair-play-minded Gang of 14. Now, not so much.
At any rate, I’ll admit to being already something of a Feingold groupie — More than any other Dem, except perhaps the late Paul Wellstone, I view him as my Senator in Congress, the closest thing to a true progressive out there. (For what it’s worth, I also thought he did a better job than any other Dem in his questioning of Roberts, with the possible exception of Dick Durbin.) Still, I think he made the right decision in this vote, and I hope very much that groups on the left who disagreed with his choice here keep an eye on the big picture and don’t start calling for his head.
And Roberts? Well, I’m never going to agree with the guy on a lot of issues, that’s for sure. But, in the hearings, I thought he came across as conservative in the old and best sense of the term — cautious, restrained, not inclined to break tradition — and not as a frothing, fundamentalist reactionary like any number of judges Dubya has appointed to the bench. Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that this turns out to be the case.
The Roberts confirmation hearings are now underway. So far, they’re not making for the most scintillating television — at this very moment, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is mangling his way through an opening statement he’s clearly never read before — but hopefully the drama will pick up once the Senators start firing away questions. (In fact, Feingold’s up now with his opener, and Roberts’ brow looks increasingly furled.) Update: Well, he’s polished…I’ll give him that. After watching three days of hearings, I learned more about hapless toads and the various senators on the Judiciary committee than I have about Roberts.
As big-time progressive donors get to institution-building, the Dems try to work out a coherent strategy on the Roberts confirmation hearings and the war in Iraq. Right now I think Russ Feingold’s strategy — taking the heat off Roberts to focus on matters in Baghdad — is probably the right one, although the party should also try to keep the public eye trained on the misdeeds of Mssrs DeLay, Rove, etc. There should be no wriggling off the hook this time for these well-placed GOP criminals.
“‘This bill digs us deeper into a budget black hole,’ said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) ‘It fails to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. It rolls back important consumer protections. And finally, it undermines some of the fundamental environmental laws that our citizens rely upon.’” By a vote of 74 to 26, the Senate passes a grotesquely pork-inflated energy bill that’s riddled with tax breaks for energy companies and devoid of anything that’ll actually help minimize our need for oil. Great job, fellas.
At the behest of McCain-Feingold’s backers, a federal judge eliminates 15 of 19 FEC rules designed to gut the 2002 campaign finance law. “‘We began to wonder what law they were implementing,’ [Congressman Chris] Shays said. “They were simply trying to rewrite the law to weaken it and put in loopholes.’ Obviously, this decision is coming too late to affect this election cycle much, but perhaps we’ll be able to get a honest sense of McCain-Feingold’s impact in stemming corruption during the 2006 midterms. Update: As you might expect, the FEC will appeal the decision.
By a vote of 5-4 (Justice O’Connor the swing vote as expected), the Supreme Court upheld the McCain-Feingold soft-money ban today in McConnell v. FEC. Well, Scalia may call this a “sad day for the freedom of speech,” but I for one think this is great, great news. “Money, like water, will always find an outlet,” as the majority put it, but at least the highest Court in the land has now recognized the corrosive impact of unregulated loot on the political process. This decision will hopefully do much to disentangle the pernicious conflation of speech and money in Buckley v. Valeo, and set the stage for continued meaningful campaign finance reform in the years to come. While McConnell v. FEC doesn’t eliminate the bad taste of Bush v. Gore, it is a huge step in the right direction by this Court.
Campaign finance reformers, among them McCain, Feingold, Shays, and Meehan, set their sights on the FEC. If nothing else, a commission with an even-number of members seems designed to benefit the status quo.
On day one of a Gore-less race, Dems and pundits alike survey the now wide-open field. As I noted in the comments below, I’m pulling for John Kerry at the moment, but would like to hear more from Howard Dean. It’d be great to see Russ Feingold in the hunt too. To be honest, the only Dem contender I’m set against right now, if you can even call him a Dem, is Lieberman. To quote from a two-year-old post (8/9/00), “First, I am pretty much turned off by moral crusading and open religiosity in a politician of any religion (“We in government should look to religion as a partner, as I think the founders of our country did”.) Second, it turns out Lieberman has supported capital gains tax cuts and school vouchers and opposed affirmative action. (“You can’t defend policies that are based on group preferences as opposed to individual opportunity,”.) Third, look at the company he keeps. Rabid cultural conservatives from Bill Bennett to Sam Brownback can’t stop fawning over the guy. Lieberman’s not a centrist – he’s right of center.” Update: Senate Dems are now pressuring Daschle to stay out.