"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Not a coup, though it could blow up

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We’ll concur here with Peter Callaghan of the Tacoma News Tribune in hauling out the dictionary and declaring that talk – like that of Democratic Seattle Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles – that the new management of the Washington Senate amounted to a coup, is excessive.

It i certainly unusual, at least in the Northwest, for two members of one party (Democrats) to break away and join with the opposing (Republican) caucus to form a new operating majority, after the general election apparently had left the Democrats in charge.

But they did it according to the rules – the majority rules. Which they changed, as well, on Monday, opening a tasty assortment of changes that could wind up benefiting either side.

If the “coup” talk among some Democrats was a little much, so too was the talk among some Republicans that theirs was a “bipartisan” coalition. Not really. When the two Democrats who shifted over were a former Republican legislator (Rodney Tom) and a near-Republican breakaway of long standing (Tim Sheldon), that’s hardly the case. When a Democrat came up with the label for their governing caucus as BINO – Bipartisan in Name Only – that sounded like a joke destined to stick, because there was truth in it.

But the governing caucus is legit.

This majority does however has the look of a highly flammable coalition. The demands of a single member could throw it into question, which is why one-vote majorities always have a hard time keeping effective control. If the caucus is closely cohesive and not given to firey displays of personality, it can work. But it only takes one to create a serious issue, and there are some distinct personalities in this caucus.

They’re running a high-wire act. All the Senate Democrats have to do is sit back and watch … and comment.

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