Has Congress found a backbone? Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice thinks so. And that may well change the political anatomy.

Coming on the heels of the surprise check-mate of the administration and its Senate allies by moderates on judicial filibusters, the administration now faces a new incarnation of Congressional defiance: a vote by the House to ease stem cell restrictions.

It’s the “timing and implications” of the stem-cell vote that intrigue Gandelman.

[Y]ou can look at what’s happening [in] two ways: (1) the administration is ignoring public sentiment and doesn’t care about governing with consensus or compromising with those with whom it disagrees. It will fully exercise whatever power it can must[er]. OR (2) the administration has a philosophy of governance which maintains that it must create policy and the country and critics will eventually come around to it, partly because they lack the votes to stop it.

The bottom line: If this bill passes the full Congress (as most expect it will) it then puts Bush in the position of vetoing an extremely popular measure. All of what is unfolding now — the Terri Schiavo case, the nuclear option controversy, stem cell research — will be redefining the Republican Party for generations. It’s a matter of political imagery. And what’s interesting is that it isn’t a case of opponents trying to redefine the GOP. It’s the GOP redefining itself — intentionally or otherwise.

Shawn at The Liquid List found a bit of humor in the stem-cell debate, as well as some early warning signals for the GOP.

If Bush vetoes [the bill], as the Post notes today, perhaps big business will start to realize their friends are a little crazy.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit sees the Republicans heading down the same road as the Democrats did before them — to a place called Fringeland.

Question: Will the party that blogs together hang together? In Oregon, House Democrats have agreed to blog together as “a way to participate in a no-holds-barred exchange of ideas, opinions and views on a 24/7 basis.”

Jane Galt at Asymmetrical Information wanders into the realm of theology, speculating on the power of prayer, in light of Islamist web posts reporting that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is wounded and asking for prayers.

Can prayer be used to destructive (at least on the micro level) as well as destructive ends? What about dueling prayers? There are presumably more people willing to pray for Zarqawi’s death than his survival (assuming that he enjoys only mixed support among Muslims, and no support among Christians, who outnumber Muslims by quite a lot). On the other hand, Zarqawi’s supporters might be more fervent. Might Islamic prayer be more effective than Christian/Agnostic/Atheist/Other prayer?

And finally — because America’s national pastime is not politics regardless of what bloggers may think — we offer this bit of history that we would have missed if not for Greg Hlatky at A Dog’s Life.

Charles Muse died on May 5th at the age of 87. He was the inventor of the modern batting helmet, which he devised in the early 1950’s while with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

He was encouraged in his efforts by that visionary executive Branch Rickey. Rickey had just come to the Pirates after ending his association with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He inherited a mess of a team. In 1952, the year the new batting helmets were introduced, the Pirates had a record of 42-112, among the very worst in baseball history. One of the younger team members brought his helmet to Rickey and asked, “Shouldn’t these have some foam inside them?” Rickey replied, “No, they should have some baseball players inside them.”

Susan Q. Stranahan

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.