WASHINGTON, May 18
Sure, there are other questions.
(Will the White House really "get to" veto the highway bill? What kind of mayor will Antonio Villaraigosa be? Why is Michael Whouley working for Anthony Weiner? What does Ari Fleischer think about John Dickerson's cagey move to Slate from Time? Will the President ever stop thinking the "Please be seated" joke is funny? Will Dan Bartlett ever stop thinking that joke is funny?)
(Answers: don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know, NO!!, and yes -- it happened several years ago.)
But all the most immediate and high-impact questions revolve the looming showdown in the Senate -- which won't clothe a single child, feed a single infant, extend health care to a single poor person, protect a single defenseless child, cut a single tax, or remove a single burdensome regulation.
And/but no doubts about these:
-- The Washington press corps seems to want a dramatic last-minute deal and would likely lionize the deal-makers with extravagant tick tocks (complete with what-kind-of-pie-was-served color).
-- The negotiating Senators want to find a compromise but are still finding that the baby won't split.
-- The macho, confident party is nearly certain it has the votes (if it comes to that); the touchy-feely party is sure the fence-sitters read the editorial pages of the Washington Post and New York Times, so they think they will probably have the votes (if it comes to that).
-- The Los Angeles Times' ed board's support for Frist's position is refreshingly contrary. LINK
-- The armies of the right (from Dr. Dobson to the Wall Street Journal ed board to talk radio to the bloggers) will show no compassion for or understanding of any Republicans who defect.
-- While the MSM normally reflexively portray the right's interest groups as more virulent about a cause than the left's, in this case, the conservative grasstops (and grass roots, if you believe some polls) are far more heavily invested in the outcome and have been far more effective at communicating their views to GOP leaders than the Alliance for Justice/PFAW have been at convincing Democrats that their credibility with their base would be (further) diminished by a perceived cave-in.
-- The left-leaning press is itching with the force of the most virulent athlete's foot imaginable to make a martyr of Senate Parliamentarian Alan S. Frumin. LINK
-- Sen./Leader/Dr. Frist is cagier than the Gang of 500 gives him credit for; Leader Reid is tougher than the Gang of 500 gives him credit for.
Very much up in the air:
-- How close are the compromisers to a deal? (Sen. Ben Nelson on CNN this morning was all upbeat . . . )
-- At what point is it too late for a deal?
-- If the compromisers reach a deal, who gets to tell the Leaders?
-- If that happened, would the Leaders be relieved or vexed?
-- Who is making money off of all this?
-- Which David has a better sense of humor about his serial portrayal in The Note: Rogers over his 101st Senator status, or Sanger over his "interest" in the North Korea story?
Per one Capitol Hill fly on the wall (apparently typing on one of those BlackBerry thingies):
"Deal not likely. But you may see d's break and vote for cloture and then we don't need deal and don't need nuclear option."
Per another such fly: