Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Senator Frist Interviewed By Power Line

Power Line's Scott Johnson conducted a 30 minute interview with the Majority Leader, and came up with some good material:

I asked him about the Iranian nuclear program. Senator Frist responded in clinical terms; he described the Iranian nuclear program as the number one threat to the mortality of America today. He said that he had just returned a week-and-a-half ago from Russia (and Poland and elsewhere) with the purpose of seeking support for the suppression of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

I asked how much time there was for diplomacy; he said that Iran's nuclear ambitions might be achieved in as little as two years. He acknowleged the difficulties of diplomacy under the circumstances and indirectly expressed the view that President Bush would not leave the problem for his successor, although I couldn't elicit anything beyond the usual bromides.


What about judges? He said that nominees Terrence Boyle and Brett Kavanaugh had been waiting for a vote for five years and three years, respectively, and that their nominations needed to be addressed. My impression was that he meant to assure them an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. He referred to 60 other judicial nominations "in the pipeline" and stated that all these nominations "need to be taken through immediately." He anticipates an acceleration of the confirmation schedule in the coming months.

I asked about his estimate of the damage done to the NSA terrorist surveillance program by its disclosure. He said he could not put numerical values on the damage, but that he thought the program had been harmed. He nevertheless believed that it remained an important program for the defense of the United States. We're at risk of another attack every day, Senator Frist observed, and common sense would suggest that the value of the program was diminished by its disclosure.

This is encouraging discussion from Senator Frist. He appears to be aware of the stakes and it looks as though he has a decent grasp on what the Senate's priorities should be. As I noted below, it's going to take a strategy shift to get the GOP through the mid terms successfully, and the Majority Leader's initiative is a good example for the rest of the Senate Republicans.