Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Link to the pdf file here.
A quick read of the lefty blogs suggests that they are less annoyed by the compromise than the righty blogs (or at least the righty blogs that care a lot about this issue). Or, to put it differently, the lefty blogs are happy that the conservatives are so annoyed.
As regular readers of this blog know, judicial filibusters have not been one of my big issues. However, I think that the Republicans handled this issue all wrong from the get-go. Whether or not abolishing judicial filibusters would have increased the leverage of sitting Republicans over these few nominees, we know that abolition would have weakened the Senate as an institution vs. the executive branch. This is because the possibility of a filibuster forces the executive branch to negotiate. Eliminate that possibility, and you weaken the Senate. Eventually, enough Republicans figured out that weakening the Senate's institutional muscle was not in their interest, even if it got a few more conservative judges through. They will face the wrath of Dobson, but so what? Where are the Christians going to turn?
Of course, this exercise also proves that the bleating on the left about "theocracy" and all the rest of their scaremongering is just so much hot air. When push came to shove, the fundamentally conservative -- as in non-changing -- Senate came to its senses. This showdown amounted to brinksmanship, not too different from traditional bladder-burster filibusters of old.
CWCID (for the links): AMERICABlog.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a complete round-up of conservative rage and betrayal angst, including her own. Not having consumed this particular Kool-Aid, I seem to be immune to whatever it is that has gotten the right in such a twist over all this.
Everybody did fine without this ancient four year old tradition for 200+ years. It is interesting how pushing back against reactionary tactics (the fillibuster) is considered to be reactionary.
Liberal activists rely on lack of historical memory. Don't fall prey to sloppy thinking.
It's always a danger to judge by who squeals the loudest, but I admit, a little Screwey triumphalism does make me queezy.
If you read the few posts I wrote on this I hope I made it clear that the NO was not something I embraced happily. At the same time I can't share your (and Jeff Jarvis' and a lot of others) opinion that this is a victory for moderation just because both sides are hollering.
To me the actions of the Democrats in filabustering lower court nominees was the radical move. Not just as a departure from tradition, but as a means of codifying judicial legislation. By resisting the danger of losing power to the executive branch, they're in danger of ceding vast power to the judical.
All along I hoped something short of the NO could be worked out so that the filibuster could be preserved but on more traditional grounds. That struck me as worth giving up a few nominations. Now they've given up the nominations anyway, they've given up any limitations on the use of filibusters and they've gotten, what? Three nominations that would have passed had they gotten to the floor.
They didn't even buy us dinner.
I believe what is fundamentally upsetting to most conservatives is the inability of the Republican party to act like a majority party and carry out the mandate that the country gave them by making them the majority. If you can't lead, then why did we make you the majority? If you won't take a stand against the usurpation of the Executive branch's function by your own branch, what will you stand for? Didn't they take an oath to uphold the Constitution, which clearly gives the President the prerogative to nominate federal judges, and which confines the Senate to advising and consenting? Since when does the minority party get to dictate Executive policy, which the electorate failed to give them?
After a day to digest, I'm less smug about the idea that anyone got smackeddown more than anyone else. Sure the Republicans who loathe dissent aren't as happy as they would have been if given the opportunity to throw any Pat, James, or Jerry onto the bench. But the Democrats who loathe moral absolutism are just as unhappy that they won't get to stop every one of the Terrible Ten.
All the democrats got, as far as I can tell, is permission from the Republican party to operate within the rules. The Republicans got 3 freebies on judges that no Democrat will like and language that gives them the opportunity to shout "Extraordinary circumstances, my ass!" when Dems choose to exercise the filibuster.
Democrats have blocked a punch. They haven't scored a knockout.