Notes: Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party to become an independent on Thursday saying that the election of George W. Bush had pushed him into doing so. Jeffords said he would vote with Democrats on organizational matters, thus giving the Democrats a 51-49 majority making them the majority party in the Senate. This causes all Senate committee chairmanships to go to Democrats.

Karl Rove, George W. Bush's chief political strategist, and other staffers have been said to be playing political hardball with Jeffords over not marching in lockstep with the White House. The White House has been annoyed with Jeffords for helping to force the Bush tax cut down to its present amount. It has been rumored that the White House was looking into cutting a milk compact that the state of Vermont now has. Also, White House staffers had called journalists in Vermont to complain that Jeffords was not on board with the full tax cut. Moreover, the White House had a ceremony a few weeks ago honoring the teacher of the year who happened to be from Vermont. Jeffords was not invited to the ceremony which reportedly upset him.

What is truly amazing is that the White House and Congressional Republicans did not see this coming. Their spin machine is now operating in high gear trashing Jeffords as being quirky and conniving with Democrats for a new chairmanship. However, Vermonters have largely treated him like a hero and polls today show that a majority of Americans approve of his move and want both parties -- not just one -- to govern the nation.

Jeffords is known for being independent-minded. He supposedly lived in a camper when he first got to Congress and also slept on his office couch. It seems like the White House should have figured out that a Congressman who has lived in a camper was not going to be easy to control. 05.27.01