Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On the filibuster compromise

I have been listening to all of the right wing commentators who are lamenting the failure of their party to act in a heavy handed manner toward the use of the filibuster by the Democratic minority. Thomas Sowell seems to think that the end result is the future death of the Republican party.
Maybe I am just too dumb, but I see this as a victory for the Republicans more so than the Democrats. Sure some Republicans would like to slap the minority around a little just to remind them of their place, but the compromise does not mean that this is completely off the table.
In fact, the compromise seems to return to the status quo ante-108th Congress. It leaves the filibuster available, but reduces its outrageous use as of late. Democrats had to cave on what they had called totally unqualified, or as the Chuck Schumer mantra went "out of the mainstream." (I do not think that I want Schumer to define the mainstream). Even their objections being based on principles were taken to task, since they now agree that so many are going to be approved.
The beauty of the compromise are the magic weasel words "extraordinary circumstances" which will allow a filibuster. In my mind that is a pretty high standard. But let's say that the next time a nominee comes up, that the Democrats decide that he or she meets the "extraordinary circumstances" test. If I was one of the Republican Senators, I would want them to show with specificity what makes them so. And if I did not feel that they were worthy of a filibuster, I would feel betrayed and demand the either "nuclear" or "Constitutional" option be brought back into play.
Now, let's say that you are one of the compromisers. You know that if only two people return to the Frist camp, you are going to lose when he implements the termination of filibusters on judges. So, you have a President of your own party, who is wildly popular with his own base, (your primary voters) who can make a big difference in your choice of career. Since you know that there are probably two who will side with the President, wouldn't it be better to get on the band wagon early? A sort of Prodigal Son returns?
Further, Frist can spin this as having tried to accomodate the Democrats, that they have betrayed him once again. I always thought that the Democrats would cave, mostly because they would lose a siginificant tool that has been used way too often. This compromise seems to allow everyone to declare victory while at the same time doing nothing of any real substance. Politics at its finest.

No comments: