The New York Times' Carl Hulse writes that Sen. Bill Frist " moved quickly to separate the emotionally charged case of Ms. Schiavo from the politically charged possibility of a showdown over Democratic filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees" by disagreeing with Tom DeLay over the federal judiciary's fairness in the former matter. LINK
Which is exactly the opposite of what most Republicans were trying to do last week, and which puts a damper on the argument made by defenders of the GOP's conduct that somehow the Schiavo case would inflame passions (within the base, and subtly, among everyone else) that the judiciary was arrogant and out of control.
Now, says Hulse, "that tie could complicate Dr. Frist's push to change Senate rules."
"Dr. Frist's comments were similar to a view expressed last week by Vice President Dick Cheney, who told the editorial board of The New York Post that he did not believe retribution against judges for their decisions was a good idea."
"Republicans say it is Democrats who are stirring up the issue, noting they have established a special political strategy office, under Mr. Reid's control, on the filibuster fight. The Republicans say that Dr. Frist is facing increasing pressure from Republican senators to move forward and that his options are diminishing."
"'We will reach a point where negotiations, I guess, will have to end, because they will be fruitless, and then votes will have to be cast,' said Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the No. 3 Republican."
The Boston Globe picks up the same Santorum quote: " LINK
"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) told his Republican colleagues in a private meeting Tuesday that he stood by his decision to have Congress intervene in the Terri Schiavo debate -- but added that he would support a full review of Congress' action," reports Roll Call's Mark Preston.
A New York Times editorial straightforwardly bashes Sen. Cornyn for his remarks. LINK
We'll leave it to the Hotline to summarize the conservative blogosphere's reaction, but suffice it to say -- we haven't read anything that convinces us that any smart rightie blogger actually believes that Cornyn didn't cross the line.
Politically, his comments armed Democrats with a new Kalashnikov.
From the Washington Times: "All 55 Republican senators say they have never seen the Terri Schiavo political talking-points memo that Democrats say was circulated among Republicans during the floor debate over whether the federal government should intervene to prolong her life. A survey by The Washington Times found that every Republican said the memo was not crafted or distributed by him or her. Every one of them said he or she had not seen it until the memo was the subject of speculation in major news organs, particularly ABC News and The Washington Post." LINK
Congress: the nation's business:
The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum writes that the Senate ethics committee has decided that the private medical practice of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a conflict of interest with his work in Washington, and has given him until Sept. 30 to shut down his practice in Muskogee, OK. Coburn has vowed to fight the ruling. Senate rules have prohibited lawmakers from holding outside jobs for nearly 20 years. LINK