15 December 2002
Don of a new Congress
What everyone wants to know, apparently, is whether Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) can wrest the Majority Leader position away from Trent "You don't know how sorry I am, but just wait" Lott.
It is no particular secret that Nickles has been pining for Lott's job. But with the rest of the Senate Republicans basically sitting on their hands, Nickles' call for a new vote looks almost like Actual Leadership, something the GOP has not been getting from Lott. Oklahoma Republicans are giddy over the prospect, and given the electoral drubbing they got this fall expected to make substantial gains, they lost a couple of legislative seats and the Governor's mansion to boot it's perfectly understandable.
What sort of person is Don Nickles? On the left-right scale, he's not so far from Lott: the American Conservative Union's lifetime ratings put Lott at 93, Nickles at 96; Lott got a zero in 2001 from Americans for Democratic Action, who gave Nickles a 10. Myself, I find him a tad indigestible, though nowhere nearly as distress-inducing as the other Oklahoma senator, Jim Inhofe, a man to whom clues are a personal affront. And I've been known to grumble about Nickles' off-again-on-again support for term limits (hint: when it comes to him, it's off). But the GOP could do a hell of a lot, or a Lott, worse.