2005 has offered an impressive string of fumbles from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. First was his shameful Senate-floor "diagnosis" of Terry Schaivo, his medical judgement informed by years of practice and a few minutes of videotape. Since then, he has been a prominently ineffectual leader in the Senate. He pushed for the "nuclear option" to eliminate filibusters of judicial nominees, only to be outflanked by the bipartisan group of 14 centrists who found a compromise. (Can you really be "outflanked" from the center?) This week, he said that there were no options left to get a confirmation floor vote for John Bolton. Or that was what he said until he went to talk with the President. Afterwards, he was all for the up-or-down vote again.
In general, it can be uncomfortable to watch someone flailing in ineptitude. The observer might wish that the unfortunate would catch a break, or even stop trying. But in Frist's case, it's just funny. His bold stands and maneuvers are for his own ends, designed to demonstrate to the true faithful of the GOP that he's their man for 2008. What he's really showing is no political acumen and consistently poor judgement. He's got the rope, and he seems hard at work on making a noose of it.