It looks like a some level-headed centrists managed to forge a coalition and end the nonsense about the filibuster, and it appears that they were led by the venerable Senator from Virginia, John Warner. As usual, I have quite a few opinions about the issue.
First, I have felt that all along that nominees deserve a vote. That just seems fair and appropriate. It does not, however, have any historical foundation in fact.
I found Republican attempts to market this as the ‘Constitutional’ option to be not very persuasive at all, particularly considering this is the same Senate that passed McCain-Feingold as well as legions of other bills of dubious merit. If Republicans wanted to persuade me about their concern for the Constitution, they should have tried to do so years ago, when judges were being blocked by the blue slip rule and other mechanizations. What about an up or down vote for them?
Again, attacking the Democrats for filibustering is a tad unfair unless you recognize why they are doing it:
Blocking judges via judicial filibusters, he says, is a quite different thing from blocking judges via traditional blue slips or through the majority exercising its legitimate control of the Senate calendar.
Quite so. The part he misses is that regardless of what you think of blue slips, Republicans were delighted to use them when Bill Clinton was the one nominating judges, but then suddenly reversed course and ended the blue slip tradition as soon as their own guy was in office. Ditto for “Rule IV,” another way that the minority had long been allowed to influence judicial nominations until the Republican party decided to do away with it last year. And ditto again for “up or down votes on all judges,” a decidedly newfound rallying cry among Republicans.
Wrapping these nominees in the Constitution is just the latest marketing ploy- not an all out respect of the Constitution. The Republicans really did set the table for this fight.
Likewise, it is a little difficult to swallow the Democrat’s exception to nominees, particularly when they find someone like Miguel Estrada to be too extreme.
At any rate, I think the deal is overall a good thing. The filibuster stays, and Republicans don’t know how lucky they are that is going to happen. The shortsighted fools claim they were just going to end the filibuster for judicial nominees. Whatever.
If the Republicans used the ‘nuclear option’ to BREAK (and they would be breaking the Senate organizing rules to do what they want) the rules and create new ones for filibustering, there is no doubt in my mind that the next time the Democrats controlled the Senate that they would feel free to break the rules to do whatever they wanted. Say goodbye to the filibuster for legislation, something that the GOP needs far more than the Democrats.
This was nothing more than a brazen power grab by my side, and everyone knows it. Fortunately, we get a few nominees put through, things go back to normal, and the Senate will not shut down. Life will go on.
As usual, the extremists will be screaming for heads. The evil moderates snatched ‘defeat from the jaws of victory’ (you will see phrase over and over again in the next few days) and they have betrayed the center-right coalition, and must be punished. Check out Powerline:
Senator Graham and his friends have likely given away one of the president’s most important powers — the power to nominate Supreme Court Justices of his choosing and get an up-or-down vote on them. I hope they enjoy the praise they are about to get from the Washington Post and the New York Times.
It is all about assigning motives when you are a hard-right Republican, because no one’s motives are pure but the arch-conservatives. And cry me a river- what is so wrong about a moderate Justice? Is this an admission that what some on the right really want is activist judges of the conservative kind?
Off with their heads, as Hugh leads the battle cry for punishing the 7 GOP Senators who chose to sign the contract:
No doubt cheerleaders for the “moderates” will think talk of dumping Chafee and Snowe, and ire at Graham and others is wrong-headed conservative partisanship. But they have never wanted ideas to govern in D.C., and center-right coaltions hang together on ideas, not interests. If there’s any hope of keeping that coalition together and in charge for a good run of years, there have to be consequences for betrayal of the coaltion. Loss of ofice and/or status should be the consequence of unprincipled political behavior. It isn’t anything but a political response to a political deal.
What Hugh and others fail is that the Republicans won because they wrap themselves up in the moderation of the centrists, presenting themselves as all cozy and warm and as ‘compassionate conservatives.’
In other words- Bush is President in large part because moderates voted for him. It was Arnold Schwarzanalphabet and Rufy Guiliani and John McCain who were the most effective campaigners for Bush in 2004. I didn’t see Dobson speaking at the GOP Convention. Republicans control the Senate and House because of moderate support. Try to organize a Republican leadership without the moderates. It fails.
At any rate, I voted for the Republicans, and all they have done is shit all over me since election day. The bankruptcy bill, the censorship calls, the pandering to the religious right, the new mandatory minimus bill, the Patriot Act II, and so on and so forth. It is about time we gave in to some ‘moderation.’ What else am I getting out of this coalition that demands my pure loyalty but offers me nothing in return?
The hard-liners don’t get it, though. They think because you support them some of the time, you must support them all of the time. They think in terms of permanent lock-step coalitions, not coalitions about ideas or issues. They are wrong.
At any rate, calls for conservative purity should fall on deaf ears. The Republicans are in control of the government in large part because of the moderates, not in spite of them. Go give money to these seven, they are going to get shit on by the extremists for the next few years. You should support them.
As a final note, let me just give you this quote:
“This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it’s business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.
“We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.”
In my worldview, anything that has Dobson this hopping mad ain’t an all-together bad thing, even if I think all nominees should get an up or down vote.