Last night offered an interesting test of the Friedersdorf thesis. The Senate voted on a resolution to revoke congressional authorization of the Iraq war and an amendment to strip the indefinite detention powers from the defense authorization bill. Both measures failed, but brougth together interesting coalitions on both sides.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who was elected in last year’s Tea Party tidal wave, was a leader in both fights. On the Iraq resolution, he was joined by fellow Tea Party favorites Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Dean Heller of Nevada, as well as moderate Olympia Snow of Maine. Liberals split, with Barbara Boxer and Al Franken voting yes while Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer voted no. Tea Partier Mike Lee of Utah, who voted with Paul on the Patriot Act and the Libya war, was conspicuously a no vote.
On the matter of indefinite detention for terrorism suspects, the only Republican to join Paul was moderate Mark Kirk of Illinois. The other Tea Party-backed conservatives voted with John McCain and Carl Levin to keep those powers in the defense bill. Liberals again split, with 16 Democrats and Joe Lieberman voting against the amendment. (Some Republicans may object to the specific wording of the amendment, offered by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, since there was reportedly a “spirited discussion” about indefinite detention at a Senate Republican meeting attended by former Vice President Dick Cheney.)