The moderate wing of the Republican Party was reborn Saturday in the United States Senate. Eight Republicans — Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If you add Senator Richard Lugar, who is leading the charge to ratify START and Senator Lindsey Graham, the Obama administration’s go to Republican in the Senate, the number of Senate Republicans with established moderate credentials moves to double digits.
What makes this bunch so appealing is that they actually seem to think about the issues before they vote on them. For example, while the party ideologues on both sides voted for (or against) both DREAM and DADT repeal. Senator Kirk voted for repealing DADT (“As a 21-year Navy Reserve officer, I believe it is important for military leaders, not federal judges, to run our armed forces”) and against DREAM (“The American people believe our borders are broken. It is a fundamental duty of our government to know who is entering the country, making illegal entry nearly impossible. In the coming Congress, we have an overwhelming bipartisan consensus to restore confidence in the security of our borders — before we pursue other immigration proposals,”)
Socially moderate. Fiscally conservative. Thoughtful. Wow. Kirk isn’t the only one in the bunch with an open mind. Senator Graham opposed DADT and DREAM but drew the ire of virtually everyone in the party when he and Senator Lieberman teamed up with the White House to see if they couldn’t create a workable energy bill (Harry Reid killed it). Senator Lugar didn’t join the team for DADT or DREAM but is the President’s go to senator on START. Senator Murkowski lives to stick it to Palin, so she scores moderate points for that. Senator Brown has showed an ability to tip-toe the line between the parties as deftly as anyone.
What does this all mean? First, it means that RINOs like myself can rest easier knowing that there is a group in the Senate to check the Palinites’ crazier tendencies. But more importantly, it means that the President has no excuse for not getting Republican support in the Senate. There are, at the very least, ten Senators that are open to crossing the party line. If the President can’t get six of them on every single piece of legislation that he attempts to pass, it means that he isn’t trying.
Follow Jeb at twitter: @JGolinkin