Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What Does Filibuster Compromise Mean?

I've made a vow to myself on this day to take a deep breath and give the Senate filibuster compromise some time to sink in.

But, of course, I have a few initial thoughts:
  • Let's not take too much solace in the fact that conservatives seem very angry about this deal. If you look at right-wing blogs, you'll see some pretty inflammatory language, in which they suggest that the Republican Senators sold out, rolled over and let the Democrats screw them. Don't forget, these people are greedy bastards. They're upset because they are only going to end up confirming 99 percent of Bush's judicial choices. Just because someone haggling with me over $100 is upset that they only got $99, doesn't mean that I got a good deal.
  • It seems that the only victory we got out of this is that we're keeping William G. Myers and Henry Saad off the bench, while giving in on Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor Jr. At its very best, this only delays the inevitable for as long as the Republicans hold the Senate majority. The deal only allows Democrats to filibuster judicial nominees "under extraordinary circumstances," a vague term that the Republicans can suddenly decide is not apt – even when applied to the most extreme of Bush's choices. Let's not forget that it is tacitly implied that objecting to Owen, Brown and Pryor was not considered an extraordinary circumstance by Senate Republicans. So what kind of nominee would be “extraordinary,” a former Klansman? Basically, Republicans maintain the right to support the nuclear option if they believe Democrats are abusing the agreement. You better believe that will be invoked quickly and the bipartisan love-fest you saw last night will be long forgotten.
  • How the Republican votes go on Owen, Brown and Pryor will give a good indication of where moderate Republicans' heads are with regard to Bush's most extreme nominees – and perhaps a clue as to how many of them view these nominees as extreme.
  • Will Bush, as the two most senior members of the group, Sens. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) suggested last night, consult with them before submitting future judicial nominees? Give me a break. The sheer arrogance of the Bush White House, couple with their imagined mandate will not allow that to happen.
  • Whether this will hurt Bill Frist's 2008 presidential bid is hard to tell as it's difficult to predict the behavior of the insane Religious Right. If they're incensed with his inability to control Republican moderates, it will hurt. If they view Frist as a God-fearing, stand-up guy who was back stabbed by moderate traitors, it may only galvanize his support.
One thing is certain: You get the feeling that Senate Democrats knew that the Republicans had the votes to forever kill the filibuster and totally neuter the minority party. If this is true, the 2006 elections loom larger than ever.

Watch this space in the coming week for a rundown of all 2006 Senatorial races and where we need to focus some serious attention in the next 18 months.