My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


More Signs Of Folding

I wrote last week that I thought David Broder's column on the wisdom of Senatorial compromise was probably the first sign that the Dems know they're in a losing battle over the filibuster.

Today brings us another, though more smartly written from a Democratic point of view.

David Brooks writes in the NYTimes that Bill Frist should have accepted the deal that Harry Reid tried to make with him last week.

Reid offered to allow votes on a few of the judges stuck in limbo if the Republicans would withdraw a few of the others.

But there was another part of the offer that hasn't been publicized. I've been reliably informed that Reid also vowed to prevent a filibuster on the next Supreme Court nominee. Reid said that if liberals tried to filibuster President Bush's pick, he'd come up with five or six Democratic votes to help Republicans close off debate. In other words, barring a scandal or some other exceptional circumstance, Reid would enable Bush's nominee to get a vote and probably be confirmed.

This sounds an awful lot like the last negotiations of a losing general. In other words, I'll manage to give you ALMOST everything you want, just don't beat me in one more battle.

Of course, this continues to belie the ludicrous claim of Democrats that the judges the President has appointed are activist, neanderthal, out-of-the-"mainstream", dangerous, etc. . . If they really were these things, than any such deal would be wrong, and the person making it irresponsible. The only circumstance that makes a deal such as this palatable is if the filibuster were based on purely political grounds. . .what are the odds, huh?

So, why wouldn't Frist accept this deal? Brooks answers that one, too:

Speculation about why Frist has let it drop goes in different directions. Perhaps he didn't know if he could trust Reid to make good on his promise. Perhaps he didn't think he could sell this agreement to his own base without publicizing this private part of the deal. Perhaps he wants to keep this conflict going to solidify his support among social conservatives for his presidential run. Perhaps he believes as a matter of principle the judicial filibuster must be destroyed.

And then Brooks goes on to paint the situation after the "Byrd Option":

He should have done it, first, because while the air is thick with confident predictions about what will happen if the nuclear trigger is pulled, nobody really knows. There is a very good chance that as the battle escalates, passions will surge, the tattered fabric of professionalism will dissolve, and public revulsion for both parties will explode. . .

Second, Frist should have grabbed this offer because it's time for senators to re-establish the principle that they, not the outside interest groups, run the Senate. . .

Finally, it's time to rediscover the art of the backroom deal. . .

On the other hand, I can think of one or two fine reasons to reject the offer and proceed with the Byrd Option. First, requiring a supermajority to confirm nominees is blatantly unConstitutional. Secondly, applying the filibuster to judicial nominees is a breach of 200 years worth of Senatorial protocol. Thirdly, elections matter, and majorities matter--Democrats have neither, and should stop pretending that they do.

Or, perhaps, to put it better, certain Republicans should stop pretending that the Democrats do.

But by omitting the obvious--that it might not work--Brooks is quietly announcing that Democrats know that they don't have the votes to overrule a ruling from the chair ending the filibuster. Given this, I would be surprised, to a small degree, if the Democrats go ahead and try to filibuster either Owen or Brown when they come up in the next couple weeks. Best to pull this hand off the table while you still have a little of your buy-in left.

But it will be fun to watch the howls of outrage from the left when and if this all goes down.

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