TOM DASCHLE: SAINT OR SATAN?….Josh Marshall has a column in The Hill about the latest Tom Daschle bashing campaign, and it’s worth reading on its own merits. But it also reminds me that I’ve never quite figured out what I think of Daschle.

It started a couple of years ago when I was listening to Rush Limbaugh and heard him refer to Daschle as “El Diablo.” Huh? “He’s Satan,” Rush said, “and I mean that seriously.”

At that point I was wondering if maybe there was some other Tom Daschle he was talking about. The one I knew was a low-key career politician who knew how the Senate worked, represented his party pretty effectively, but also cooperated with the other side of the aisle when he needed to and basically kept things chugging along fairly amicably. This guy is Satan?

As Josh points out, Rush wasn’t the only one on this bandwagon, and Daschle has been the target of considerable Republican vitriol ever since. But here’s the funny thing: a lot of liberals (in the blogosphere anyway) don’t seem to think much of Daschle either. Too low key. Too accomodating. Lost the Senate last November.

But I wonder. The fact that he gave President Bush credit for his war leadership, for example, might just be smart politics. And he did manage to get Jim Jeffords to leave the GOP and caucus with the Democrats. And he’s leading a couple of filibusters right now, which is pretty toughminded stuff.

And most of all, the Republicans seem to hate him. Surely that’s a pretty good indication that behind the bland exterior he’s doing a pretty good job for us?

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