Nick Kessler

Connecting the dots

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Thursday, October 03, 2002
Republican William Safire declares that if Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO) loses her special Senate election to James Talent this fall, it would be an outrageous example of "tricks and delaying tactics" for Missouri's "Democratic governor to drag a foot on certification of the election — thereby delaying the takeover by a G.O.P. majority." In fact, he quotes Winston Churchill to imply that Democrats' willingness to "pull a fast one" would be remembered:

"Nothing is more fatal than a dodge," young Winston Churchill told Commons in 1906. "Wrongs will be forgiven, sufferings and losses will be forgiven or forgotten . . . but anything like a trick will always rankle."

But back before the 2000 election the same James Talent was getting some distinctly "dodgy" advice from another Republican, John Fund. Predicting (erroneously) that Talent would win the Missouri governor's race, Fund counseled him to appoint a Republican, and not Jean Carnahan, to replace her deceased husband Mel even if the voters elected him to the Senate. In fact, he urged the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate to play its part to keep the seat Republican, even if it meant delaying all Senate business until Talent took office:

"Missouri has a governor's race next week, and Rep. Jim Talent, a Republican, is slightly favored to win. Should he prevail, he would take office Jan. 8. The U.S. Senate normally meets to swear in new members on Jan. 3, but the GOP leadership could easily switch to a date after Mr. Talent's inauguration. He then would presumably appoint Mr. Ashcroft or another Republican to the Senate vacancy. It would be crass, bare-knuckled politics but certainly plausible given that the next election when voters would have a say in the matter would be a long two years away."

So bring on the tricks. After all, voters don't remember that kind of thing.


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