I interviewed the famous political guru Lyn Nofziger last year for an article I'm working on about the 1974 South Dakota Senate race. Nofziger was a consultant in the race--very interesting story. Anyway, I just noticed his column on the importance of Daschle's defeat this fall, which appeared in The New York Times a few weeks ago. Excerpt:
In reality, the president can thank Republican gains in the Senate and House for giving credibility to his claims of a mandate. The defeat of the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, was, next to Mr. Bush's own win, the Republicans' most significant victory. For all his soft-spoken ways and claims of wanting to work with Mr. Bush, Senator Daschle was a consistent, effective and highly partisan obstructionist who blocked not only legislation but also presidential appointments, primarily those of conservative federal judges.
With Mr. Daschle gone and with the addition of four Republican senators giving the party a 10-vote margin in the Senate, Mr. Bush will probably no longer have to contend with Democratic filibusters preventing the Senate from voting on his judicial appointees.
This is especially significant because during the next four years many expect three or perhaps four Supreme Court vacancies. It is a stretch, however, to think that the Senate will view the election results as a mandate for Mr. Bush to appoint whomever he wants to the courts. For one thing, the new Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the liberal and unpredictable Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. And while some may think that Senator Daschle's loss will serve as a warning to Democrats hoping to defy the president, it seems clear that he lost not because of his record of opposition but because he lost touch with his constituents.