Big Red

Is John Cornyn too conservative to get reelected to the U.S. Senate—or just conservative enough?

playing. “I want to help Texas,” he told me, “but I’m very concerned about the growth of the federal government.” He talked about getting a seat on Finance or Appropriations, two of the most influential committees, and of moving up in the leadership. And, of course, he hopes to see his party take back the majority that it lost in 2006, unlikely as that is to occur. “I’d like to try to help Republicans regain our principles,” he said. “I think Republicans govern best when we are the party of reform. Power offers temptations that are hard to resist.”

How will he adapt to his new circumstances? The danger for him is that if he persists in the role he’s carved out for himself, as a lieutenant in the partisan wars, he may find himself excluded from the closed-door bipartisan meetings in which policy is hashed out. On the other hand, he could always go back to being the kind of politician he was in Texas—the kind who would have been welcome in those meetings. Perhaps he is keeping that option open. During our last conversation, in October, he acknowledged that being in the minority had given him a greater appreciation of Senate procedures that are designed to force compromises, such as the one he once labeled a “sellout.” “I’ve come to realize that we never want to resort to a nuclear option,” he told me. “Today’s majority is tomorrow’s minority. You can end up eating your own words.”

Tags: POLITICS

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