Despite gleeful claims to the contrary, losing Jeffords is all upside for Republicans. Admittedly, it will be slightly easier for Democrats to bollix things up now that they hold leadership positions. But bollixing things up is never difficult in the Senate. (The Senate prides itself on being the collegial, dignified body -- and the House hopes none of the luscious Hollywood starlets find out there's a difference between the two bodies.) Instead of watching paint dry, waiting for Senate action will now be like watching paint dry on a humid day. Only votes matter in the Senate, and the flinty maverick's votes will continue to be 100 percent liberal.
Moreover, the Senate Republicans' average IQ just skyrocketed. And Republicans can't be blamed for what the Senate does anymore. So why, you might ask, didn't the Republican Party give Jeffords a push long ago? The answer is they did, repeatedly, for two decades now, subtly and sometimes not so subtly.
One of the Republicans' less nuanced methods was to deny Jeffords a committee chairmanship back in the '80s. This is highly unusual: Seniority rules are simply not breached. (These are the collegial guys.) But in Jeffords' case, they were willing to make an exception. Since then, Jeffords has largely been ignored by the party when not being threatened with losing his chairmanship of the "Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee" -- a committee notable for containing not a single matter within Congress' constitutional authority.
Another interesting fact about Jeffords sorely neglected by the media -- already alluded to here -- is that Jeffords is a little D-U-M-M.
While Bush's Yale education is treated like some sort of scam, the media can't cite Jeffords' Yale degree often enough. Except Jeffords was admitted to Yale before the terrorizing reign of the SATs, back when admission to the Ivy Leagues turned on social class rather than standardized tests. The year Jeffords was admitted, 1952, so were two out of every three applicants. If Jeffords is a legacy like Bush -- a point the press has avoided mentioning -- his chances of admission in 1952 were 90 percent.
The vigilant reader will notice only latent references to the D-U-M-M issue in the establishment press. It is often noted, for example, that Jeffords "dislikes cameras and speeches." But his aversion is reported as if it were part of Jeffords' sturdy Yankee rectitude (flinty, you might say) rather than a genetic necessity. If Jeffords were not accorded the respect due all politicians who adopt ADA-approved positions, late-night comics might have finally discovered a dumb Democrat.