Leader or President -- Circle One

In some ways, it's hard to blame Frist for turning batshit crazy in the past few months. Unlike most senators hoping to occupy the Oval Office, the good doctor from Tennessee is majority leader, which means every overpowered, under-medicated constituency in the country is tugging at his pant leg to make him actualize their agenda in the here and now. And they mean to see him do it if he expects their support down the road. Frist has no choice but to kowtow to their demands, rejecting compromises, taking extreme positions, and generally grinding the Senate to a halt because his presidential ambitions don't allow for moderation of any sort.

But this isn't restricted to Frist. This'd be the path of most any average senator elevated to the majority leader's position and harboring hopes for highest office. Running the Senate in a bipartisan, rational way is simply incompatible with the craziness and constituency-pleasing required by the presidential gauntlet. And we should know it. So if future Senates want themselves to function, they should pass a new rule: no majority leader or minority leader is allowed to run for president in the next presidential election. If you hold the position in 2005 and resign in 2006, no go until 2012. If you become majority leader in 2009, you got to bracket your hopes until 2016. You've got to be out of the leadership for four whole years before you can run for president. Hopefully, that'd keep the opportunists from running and help install those who care about, and like, the Senate as an institution. In any case, it'd protect the place from hopefuls mindful that their every breath and word must pay homage to the child-spanker in Colorado Springs -- and that's reward enough.

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