Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Middle-of-the-Road GOP Revolt

Sanity has thrown a Hail-Mary pass to close out the year with a surprise upset in the lame-duck Congress, and the heroes are moderate Republicans who sat on the Washington bench all year during the Tea Party rout of all reason.

From DADT repeal to the START treaty and a food-safety bill to medical care for 9/11 responders, barriers come down as traditional GOP lawmakers break through a year of gridlock to send a message to their party and its incoming zealots.

Moderation has not been in the air, but the November election apparently unnerved long-serving Republicans who saw their colleagues thrown out in primaries and began to have visions of a DeMint-Paul-Rubio rampage that would threaten their own job security next time around.

"Harry Reid has eaten our lunch," says Sen. Lindsey Graham, but it's not the hapless Democratic Majority Leader but incoming grinches about to devour everything in sight who drove Scott Brown, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski (after her own near-death experience) to break ranks on DADT and 13 Republican to join in approving the START treaty.

Washington will shut down for the holidays after this outbreak of sanity, with the President showing a sudden surge in approval ratings and likely leaving Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to wonder what went wrong with their just-say-no strategy.

With the end of one-party rule, which turned out to be no-party rule, both Democrats and Republicans will have to make New Year's resolution to start remembering what it was like to have a two-party system.

Any bets on how long that will last?

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