Gang Warfare in the Senate

If you like to speculate about unlikely but fascinating political contingencies, Norm Ornstein’s piece at National Journal laying out the scenario of a bloc of independents (hypothetically Greg Orman, Angus King and Joe Manchin) seizing control of the Senate is just the ticket.

Ornstein seems most interested in the concessions this sort of group might wring from Mitch McConnell–presumably more interested in power than policy–on issues ranging from confirmations to gun regulation to immigration to campaign finance reform (!). Since the GOP House would prevent any of these heresies from actually becoming law, I suppose it’s possible Mitch would go along with symbolic sops to “centrists” in exchange for the keys to the Senate’s executive washrooms. Ornstein also plays with the idea some R and D Senators could join with the rebels to create some sort of super-gang dealing with a broader agenda, though again, that will cut zero ice in the House.

I suppose the most disappointing and ironic outcome would be an Orman victory that doesn’t get in the way of a Republican takeover, which would require him by his own pledge to caucus with said Republicans, right after half of them have trooped through Kansas calling him a godless stealth liberal and inveterate liar who has Harry Reid’s image tattooed on his posterior. That would, however, make for some fascinating small talk at the first Caucus meeting.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.