“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Whose Ox Got Gored?

The news out of the U.S. Senate tonight is that there has been a deal regarding the judicial nominations and the "nuclear option", as detailed here. The question that will rage through Washington on Tuesday is who got the better of that deal, and the answer will of course depend upon who is talking. We can expect the regressive leadership to crow about the truly extreme judges they were able to force through to confirmation, while the Dems will emphasize the retention of the filibuster as a useful weapon. An early indication of the R party line will be the way the Globe-Republican editorializes.

The part of the agreement that probably won't be much discussed is the part that in the long run will determine who really won. According to wire reports, there is apparently commitment from some of the Republican signatories to be bolder in dealing with the White House, making it clear that Bush must have a more consultative arrangement prior to making nominations, and presumably that would mean that nominations, including potential Supreme Court nominations, would be at least slightly less extreme, and therefore less contentious. The implicit threat is that Bush could no longer count on rubber stamp votes on extremist nominees from these 7 Republicans. If that indeed proves true, then this arrangement should be considered a net win. It is worth noting that this kind of arrangement has been promoted by left leaning organizations recently. On the other hand, it seems likely that the only reason these Republicans have mostly avoided any public commitment about how they would vote on the nuclear option is to retain leverage for this kind of face-saving compromise.

If the Republicans who helped broker this deal ultimately are not willing to stand up to Karl Rove's intimidation, however, then this arrangement accomplishes nothing other than approving some of the most extreme of Bush's appellate nominees, who will serve for life. It does not help that NARAL announced today that it will support Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, one of the Republican moderates. Of course, from the standpoint of a single-issue advocacy group, it appears to make sense to support a senator who supports many of their issue positions instead of a Democrat who is less supportive. But in lending support to someone who has been no more than lukewarm about resisting Bush judicial nominations, they do more to undermine the overall advancement of their cause than any legislation possibly could.