The Republicans’ famed discipline is cracking. As Politico’s Lisa Lerer and Manu Raju reported this week, Lindsey Graham’s wheeling and dealing on global warming. And, of course, Olympia Snowe is the lady of the hour, week and month on health care (as much as Nancy Pelosi downplays her importance).
How does the GOP prevent defections? Well, with Senator Grassley it was widely rumored that the leadership threatened his ranking status on Judiciary Committee when his time as top Republican on the Finance Committee expires at the end of this cycle. Other Republicans get threats of being primaried – as Utah Senator Bob Bennett is now facing for signing on to Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden’s bipartisan health care bill.
But there’s really nothing much they can do with Snowe. Rumors swirl that she risks her ranking status on the Commerce Committee – but any real moves against her could result in her bolting the party. Maine loves her enough to keep electing her no matter what letter is next to her name: R, D, or I. And we know she’s been approached and courted heavily by Majority Leader Harry Reid. So, how does the GOP solve a problem like Olympia? The answer is: they don’t.