It's about the bum's rush Texas Republicans are giving to departing Republican Senator Phil Gramm ("Texas Republicans want Gramm out, Hispanic In.") As David Plotz makes clear in this article, Gramm is pretty far down the list of people who deserve sympathy for anything. But this comes pretty close.
The story goes like this ... Gramm's departure creates several opportunities and potential pitfalls for Republicans. The most obvious opportunity is to hold the seat with an Hispanic Republican - thus validating and augmenting the president's efforts to create a more Hispanic-friendly GOP. On the downside, Republicans could a) lose yet another Senate seat and b) thoroughly embarrass the president by having an Hispanic Democrat elected in 2002 from Bush's home state.
So Texas Republicans want Gramm to resign and allow Gov. Rick Perry (an unelected Governor, mind you) to appoint Rep. Henry Bonilla to replace him, thus giving Bonilla a running start in his effort to win a full term next November.
The Dallas Morning News correctly notes that this would avoid "a potentially brutal and costly Republican primary." But it would be more accurate, though admittedly impolitic, to say that such a primary could be brutal, costly and thoroughly discredit the notion that the Texas Republican party is built upon a happy marriage of Hispanics and post-segregationist freaks. But, you know, if they want to use the shorthand, that's cool by me.
Anyway, what's really striking about this situation is just how publicly a handful of relative upstarts within the Texas GOP (Bush, Perry, Bonilla) is telling Gramm to get the hell of out of town. President Bush met with Perry at the White House on Wednesday to discuss ways to get Gramm to resign and at least one Texas Republican media consultant with close ties to Bush has publicly told Gramm to pack it in.
Coming from a sitting president of Gramm's own party the message Bush is sending to the too-slowly departing senior Senator comes through pretty clearly as: GET THE *#$& OUT! Go! Be Gone! LEAVE! Enough with you! Go Away forever! NEVER COME BACK!!!
Meanwhile the shoving from Perry has become almost obscene, leading to exchanges such as this one in today's Houston Chronicle:
Gov. Rick Perry said Friday that U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, despite repeated denials from the senator's office, is still considering resigning so that Perry could appoint a successor and avoid a Republican brawl over the plum political seat.Ouch!!!
"Senator Gramm is still going through a thought process of whether or not he would resign early. So I don't think there's been any change," Perry told reporters.
There certainly wasn't any change in Gramm spokesman Larry Neal's response.
"Senator Gramm is not going through a thought process about resignation. He has no intention of resigning," Neal said.
Compassionate Conservatism was always, rightly, taken as a finger in the eye of gloomy, nasty Republicans like Phil Gramm. But you've gotta figure Gramm would like a little more compassion right about now.