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Congressional Democrats should be feeling just a teeny bit optimistic. And Republican moderates a lot more powerful. President Bush bragged about his “political capital” but, it seems, it’s not getting him or his adminstration anything it wants.
On the Senate side, moderate Republicans and Democrats have managed to get the review of John Bolton’s qualifications to be Ambassador to the United Nations expanded. He’s dead in the water and would do well to resign; his not doing so is just more proof of his pigheadedness. As for the White House standing by him? Er, what do you think they’re going to do? Fire him in public? Not this crowd. So now Bolton will experience a time-honored Washington, D.C. tradition: death by a thousand cuts. Fine, thin cuts delivered, delicately and subtly by friends and foes.

Which reminds me? Did you see the clips of former Secretary of State Colin Powell test driving his red Corvette pace car for the Indy500 next month? I’m telling you, this man is exploring a presidential bid, cozying up to one of the Republican’s broadest constituencies: NASCAR families and, of course, their Dads while cutting an independent foreign policy path. Interesting, no?
But back to Congress where, in the House, the news is even better than in the Senate. Republicans have backed away from attempts to railroad changes in the ethics rules in exchange for a vote on Tom Delay’s egregious behavior. Like Bolton, Delay is also toast. It’s going to take longer to get rid of him, however.
What next? Well, if things keep going the way they’re going – oh, tell me again when that vote on changing the Senate rules to do away with the filibuster is scheduled? – the conservatives are going to get a few moments of quiet contemplation. Time to contemplate having to actually negotiate with moderate like Sens. Arlen Specter, Olympia Snow and Mike Castle but time to contemplate moderate ideas like removing the ban on embryonic stem cell research, interfering in the Judicial process and maybe – gasp – abandoning the idea of Social Security reform.

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