And so, despite all the flashing lights and clear screams, John Thune has voted for the Kenyan socialist budget-busting midnight Christmas tax increase of 2010.
(Midnight? Wasn't the vote at 1PM? Yes, but cloture time ran out at 12:30 AM; if the Senate health care vote could be a Christmas Eve vote because it happened the morning of Christmas Eve Day, then surely this one can be a midnight vote. Those Republican activists love hearing about midnight votes).
That's final passage; he had already supported cloture, but I suppose he might have had an argument wiggling out of that if he had voted against final passage.
And that's before I just read Dave Weigel's tweet about Thune's earmark requests. Thune, of course, was already saddled with TARP.
Remember: single votes by politicians rarely matter, and never matter a lot, in general election campaigns. But highly-informed activists looking for ways to differentiate between seemingly identical candidates can and do care about such things. That's not the only thing that matters in presidential nomination politics, but it isn't irrelevant, either. Another way to put this: Republican politicians are more conservative than Republicans in general, but Republicans who play a large role in the presidential nomination process are most likely to the right of either group. You don't want to be voting against Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint on taxes, and that's what John Thune just did.
I think I'm moving towards Ed Kilgore's view: Thune is a Beltway candidate with essentially no campaign, and no constituency, out where Republicans actually live.