Mickey points to a piece by his Slate colleague Tim Noah on Tom DeLay, wondering whether DeLay (and by extension, other conservatives) will change their views about people in vegetative states and similar conditions, if Tim Johnson does not recover soon:
I heartily endorse DeLay's good wishes. But the political scenarist in me can't suppress curiosity about whether, in the awful event that Johnson should end up on life support, DeLay would once again support legislation blocking any attempts to remove the feeding tube. "It is more than just Terry Schiavo," he told Time magazine in March 2005. Is it, though? Even with a Senate majority hanging in the balance? DeLay probably isn't such a partisan monster that he'd reverse field entirely and declare publicly that the man has suffered enough. More likely, DeLay would hold his tongue, "out of respect for the family," and quietly tell himself that Paris is worth a mass.
The question may be both callous and premature, but it is otherwise valid. Noah wonders about the possibility of change on only one side of the political debate, but it's a fair question whether Democrats might suddenly decide that the 'quality of life' is not really the operative question.
Harry Reid faces a more immediate question, however. The Senate will convene next week, and there seems little reason to believe that Senator Johnson will be able to resume his work soon. While most significant questions require 60 votes to pass the Senate (the number needed to overcome a filibuster), lots of things are decided by simple majorities. The GOP has 49 Senate seats, and several Democratic Senators who either side with them frequently (Lieberman and the Nelsons, for example), and others who seem like they may (hello, Jim Webb), plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Cheney.
Is Harry Reid going to be able to carry his share of the load to make the Democrats' first days in power productive ones? The House has a very ambitious schedule in the early going; Ms. Pelosi will ram through a number of initiatives - minimum wage, appropriations, and more. Will Reid be able to put together a Senate majority on tough questions, or can Mitch McConnell muster a working majority on enough issues to stymie his good friend?
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