0 FOR 2….Yesterday, Bill Frist and Senate Republicans kicked off the first of three major far-right initiatives with a vote on a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Step two was a vote today on the permanent repeal of the estate tax. It went about as well as yesterday.

A 57-41 vote fell three votes short of advancing the bill. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the Senate will vote again this year on a tax that opponents call the “death tax.”

“Getting rid of the death tax is just too important an issue to give up so easily,” he said.

Frist may try again, but the votes just aren’t there. Kudos to the two Republicans — Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) and George Voinovich (Ohio) — who had the good sense to vote “no.” As Voinovich put it, “Repealing the estate tax during this time of fiscal crisis would be incredibly irresponsible and intellectually dishonest.”

There’s still talk of an almost-equally-irresponsible “compromise” under consideration, but in the meantime, today’s vote was very encouraging. It was, as Atrios put it, a “rare moment of sanity” in the Senate.

As for the three big “Divide America” votes — anti-gay amendment, flag burning, and estate tax — the GOP is now 0-for-2. The flag amendment still appears to be a couple of votes short, but in case any wavering Democrats need a reminder about this cynical scheme, the New York Times had good editorial on the subject today. Let’s hope a few of otherwise sensible Dems — Sens. Reid, Rockefeller, Salazar, and Feinstein, I’m looking at you — take the time to give it a read.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.