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May 24, 2005

Comments

The Indigent Blogger

I think this is a good example of why Senators make terrible Presidents. Will the national media now ask why Owen, Brown, and Pryor are no longer extremists?

Jeff

Click on my name for further analysis from the left-hand team. The Dems hung together while the GOP fractured. The party with all the power just lost some. Liberals who feel this is a loss need to take a longer view and recall how bleak things seemed just 6 months ago.

Oh, and what's that working it's way through Congress?--a divisive stem-cell bill. Yup, things are looking dicey for the party of Lincoln.

Appalled Moderate

There will be a clash on "extraordinary circumstances" within six months. The fundraising wings of both parties requires these fights.

Lurking Observer

Jeff:

Then you are hoist on your own petard.

The whole argument put forth by Byrd and other Democrats was that, in the face of a lock-step majority, the filibuster was essential in order to protect the rights of the minority.

If the "party of Lincoln" is as likely to fracture as the "party of FDR," however, then that puts the lie to the entire argument. The GOP is no more lock-step extremist in majority than the Democrats---in which case, why the desperate effort to maintain the filibuster and keep these justices from an up-or-down vote in the first place?

Certainly, it can't be that they are extremist---unless the Democrats who signed that little agreement intend to vote against them, which would probably spell the end of the compromise right there.

Crank

Is T.A. Frank the Wassamatta wit Kansas guy?

Hagel is a foreign and economic policy moderate. His record on social issues is pretty conservative.

McCain is officially running against the GOP base. I'm starting to smell "third party" here.

TM

As shameless self-promotion efforts go, Jeff fell a bit short of the standard.

From his post I took this:

The party that’s fracturing and confused is the GOP. The party that’s organized and coherent are the Dems.

Well, they are organized in opposition - let's wait until someone asks them to actually propose something (a day that may never come).

TM

I'm agreeing with Crank on McCain '08 as a third party candidate.

Jeff

LO,

Did you know that petard derives from the French noun pet, or "fart?" A timely observation, as you're blowing hot air. The filibuster, as philosophical principle, is regularly supported by the minority. Dems, having spent the better part of a decade trying to end the practice, finally received enlightenment in 1994. I've no doubt that the GOP will similarly be reborn to its beauty in 2006, when they are restored to the minority.

As to your clever extremist argument: what the hell are you talking about? It's called a compromise. It makes the three no less odious that Dems have agreed to wave them through. Dems, and moderate GOPpers, apparently, still have the capacity to play the game of politics without become dogmatic fanatics.

The GOP has heretofore been lockstep in a way that the Dems have never managed--even when they were the majority. This is not an issue of dispute.

However, you are right about the fragile compromise. One has a bad feeling that what Harry Reid calls "extraordinary" will be viewed as less so by Bill Frist. Perhaps we've just delayed the petards' explosions.

Norman Rogers

Here's my analytical take (I've posted this eleswhere):

I read this agreement as a complete cave by the Democrats and a complete win by the Republicans. Let me explain.

1. Forget parsing the agreement as if you were going to litigate over it. That's not what this is about. The Democrats would not have come to the table if Frist didn't have the votes. This piece of paper is meant to give the Democrats something to wave over their heads and cry, "Peace with Honor".

2. Play out the scenarios.

a. Pryor, Owen, and Brown get quick confirmations, per this agreement.

b. Frist brings up Saad, Griffin, Neilson, and McKeague -- one by one. Will the Democrats fillibuster them? Of course not -- at least not to the point of winning a cloture vote. Indeed, today's WSJ quotes Reid as predicting, "that all would be easily approved." And, the Hill has this: Reid added that other Michigan judges nominated for the sixth Circuit "are going to be approved." Frist said he expected other stalled nominees, Richard Griffin, Susan Nielson, David McKeague, and Thomas Griffith, to get votes.

The Democrats cannot do elsewise, lest they call into question their good faith (they can hardly call the remaining four, extremists, having watched the first three sail to easy confirmations).

c. Bolton gets his up or down vote (and wins, with some Democrats voting, AYE). Again, the Democrats dare not fillibuster.

d. Bush picks his first Supreme Court nominee from someone who has been previously confirmed by the Senate (like one of these first three -- probably Brown). Again, no chance of a fillibuster because all have agreed they're not "too extreme".

Remember, this agreement is a political document, not a legal one. If the Democrats misbehave, Frist will call them on it and the drama will play out again on the public stage. A fillibuster will invite a cloture vote. At least two of the seven Republicans will feel pressured to make a finding of fact that the Democrats have not acted in good faith. Hence, they would be obliged to vote AYE for the Nuclear option (50 + Cheney = win).

Forbes

TM: I know that there's a lot of appeal for McCain as a possible third party candidate--but he'd be a few years older than Reagan was, should he succeed.

Reagan was 69 (b-1911) on election day, and McCain would be 72 (b-1936).

Perhaps that won't matter.

ed

Hmmm.

If you think for a moment that this won't blow up in the GOP's face you're dreaming. The Democrats, who have shown themselves far more politically adept than the GOP, didn't NEED to sign this document. Got that? They could have agreed to cloture without having to sign anything at all.

So why did they sign?

Because this signed agreement holds the Republicans to no judical nomination rules changes, other than those in the document, until January of 2007! And yet at the same time this document does not hold the Democrats to a promise of no filibusters. Nor does it hold the Democrats to an OBJECTIVE standard for filibustering. Instead it holds the Democrats to an SUBJECTIVE standard on filibustering.

The Republicans got hosed. Got that? And yes you must look at it like you are litigating. Because this agreement has, within the Senate, the force of a contract.

What the hell. You think it's a win for Republicans. You go right ahead. You'll think that right up until the Democrats shove this piece of paper up the GOP's ass.

But this conservative isn't playing that game anymore. As far as I'm concerned the Republicans have shafted my ass once too often. I'm not going to give any money or time to the GOP and they can win or lose entirely on their own. As far as I'm concerned they're screwed for BOTH 2006 and 2008.

Call in 2010. I might consider rejoining. But the GOP will have to accomplish a shitload of pro-conservative issues for me to even consider it. Frankly what I find appalling is that liberals have had more judges appointed by Bush than conservatives!

WTF!? 3 judges? Conservatives get 3 f-ing judges?

GOP can go screw itself.

Gerry

But what would the Dread Pirate Westley think?

McCain won't be a third party candidate.

However, riddle me this. Let me paint a picture. Rhenquist steps down. What would happen, perchance, if Bush turns around and nominates, to the Supreme Court, Miguel Estrada?

Do you think the Democrats would filibuster? I do.

McCain voted for cloture on him before. So did DeWine. So did Graham. Heck, so did Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

What happens if McCain, who voted against H. Lee Sarokin and for Clarence Thomas and for Robert Bork, decides that he does not think that Estrada represents an extraordinary circumstance? And he brings Graham (who endorsed him in 2000) and DeWine (who endorsed him in 2000) along for the ride? 55-7+3 = 51. And it puts Nelson, who happens to be facing a pretty tough race, in a heck of a bind to boot. Both Nelsons, actually, since the Florida Nelson also voted for Estrada's cloture.

The 2008 field is going to be crowded, so he might not need 50% to win any particular state... He doesn't have to come across as a hero to all conservatives. Just to enough of them to get him some momentum in the primaries-- and some conservatives would be somewhat forgiving if he gets conservatives to the Supreme Court, while concurrently helping 2006 Senate races.

Gerry

I should add that not only did DeWine and Graham endorse McCain in 2000, but both also previously voted for cloture on Estrada.

Warmongering Lunatic

ed --

No, it does not have the force of a contract. It's neither part of the Senate rules nor legally binding. And because of that, the subjectivity of the standard is an advantage. Rather than having to point out anything specifically wrong with a Democratic fillibuster, just two of the seven Republicans who made the deal have to declare that the justifications for a specific fillibuster does not meet the "extraordinary" criteria as they understood it, declare the agreement violated, and provide votes 49 and 50 to end the fillibuster.

That will, of course, set off a PR battle. But given the Democratic rhetoric on Owens and Brown, how could they argue that anybody else is extreme enough for the case to be extraordinary? They'll have to come up with something plausible ther than ideology to even have a chance of winning the PR war.

So what we have here is a Democratic surrender of all ideologically-based judicial fillibusters, and on such terms that if the Democrats win the White House and Senate in '08, the Republicans still have a fillibuster on the books that they can use as they like.

Neo

When this "agreement" was announced last night, I must say that I was very upset. Now 24 hours later, I think it's not such a bad deal, for most everyone.
After hearing John Warner talk on Fox tonight, I came away believing that this group of 7+7 did in fact detonate a nuclear option of sorts, but not the one talked about for weeks. These 14 Senators threw a nuclear shock wave that took the inertia out of the "policy trains" of both the Democrats and the Republicans, and avoid a even bigger train wreck (imagine the actual aftermath of such a big portion of whupass .. the hatchets would be out). I see this agreement, in a sense, as a repudiation of the Senate Leadership of both parties; perhaps not so much personally, but more a repudiation of the countless special interest groups that drove the party policies which helped to spiral the deafening political din up to this point.

The Republican actually got most everything they wanted, except 2 judicial nominees and a whole ton of whupass. The Democrats finally successfully got to stop permanently two judicial nominees.
The Senators think that they got the public off their backs for a while, but the party bases are really "pissed" so somebody will have to pay a price. In the short term they can go back to work.

Patrick R. Sullivan

I don't think the Democrats got anything at all. They gave in on Ms. Rogers Brown, who is Clarence Thomas in a skirt. That will drive their base loonier than they already are.

Then Frist will bring up the other nominees. If the Dems filibuster more than once, it's obvious they're not acting in good faith. They'll be right back where they were; facing a rule change through parliamentary maneuver, ala Robert Byrd.

Suppose they think they'll save the filibuster for when Rehnquist retires. First, he might not. Second, you can get away with a four year delay for an Appeals Court nominee, but not for a Supreme Court nominee. The seat will have to be filled by October, whether Frist goes nuclear or Bush gives a recess appointment.

So, what did the Dems get?

TexasToast

One of the rare times I agree with Patrick Sullivan.

ed

Hmmm.

Then I take it nobody listen to senator Warner? When he stated, on air, that it would take a 'series' of obstructions for them to revisit the idea of the 'nuclear' option?

Yeah. Estrada in the Supreme Court. I'll believe it when I see it.

Jeff

Hey, ain't this America? I thought self-promotion was in the Constitution. Moving along...

Well, they are organized in opposition - let's wait until someone asks them to actually propose something (a day that may never come).

Why is this red herring appearing with such frequency on the right? Perhaps because the shame of a do-nothing Congress, when you hold both houses and the Presidency, weighs too heavily?

You know as well as I that minority parties don't get legislation passed. They promote, they ride like remoras, they scrap at the margins. It's not that there are no ideas, it's that there's no bully pulpit. You mentioned shameless, Tom; what do you call blaming the minority party for failing to pass legislation? Tsk tsk.

creepy dude

Republican dissension for starters. Republicans are now arguing amongst themselves.

Look at this thread- ed and PS are diametrically opposed on the effect of this deal. One of them will have to submit to the superior wisdom (relatively) of the other if their positions are ever to be reconciled. Good luck.

The overdue Republican crack-up has commenced.

Not that Dems stand to benefit mind you. I'm agreeing with TM. Some strange new creature is waiting to be born.

Keith, Indianapolis

Republicans have always argued amongst themselves, that is the sign of healthy debate.

Some Democrats blinked so that they can retain the use of the fillibuster. Some Republicans blinked so they can avoid changing the rules.

And that piece of paper has what legal standing???

Norman Rogers

I'm delighted to extend my remarks and explain my prediction: There will be no more filibustering of Presidential nominees -- Full Stop.

1. The only reason the Democrats cut a deal is that they knew full well theirs was a losing hand. Frist had the votes and all were headed to an accounting. This deal provides some face-saving and averts an ignominious defeat.

2. The actual debates were far more painful to the Democrats than to the Republicans. Not only did the Republicans have the votes -- they had by far the better arguments. The Republicans kept throwing the Democrat Senators own words back at them, rubbing their noses in their hypocricy. Not fun. They will not willingly go through this again, especially now that they'll have affirmed the judges they demagogued against the most. Four or five days of non-stop debate by the Senators themselves is enervating and incredibly costly. Crisis averted, they won't do it again.

3. But, Frist has no choice but to bring up all nominees to floor. His political future depends upon his following through (and Bush is relentless). And if the Democrats force a cloture motion (by more endless debate) on any remaining nominee they force their seven "moderates" to make a hard choice: honor or party. If these seven did hang with their party the seven "moderate" Republicans would face a similar choice: dishonor or party. And it would only take two of them to make a finding of fact (that the Democrats were "unreasonably" filibustering) for the Nuclear option to pass (50 + Cheney = win). And all of this would play out again on the national stage and the Democrats certainly don't want that.

So how will this play out, you ask? Quietly, I say. All seven of the nominees that have been voted out of committee will get a vote by the full Senate. Mind you -- they won't all necessarily be confirmed. There may well be a little log-rolling behind the scenes. But they'll all get their votes.

Who wins? Well Frist, clearly. He'll deliver the up/down votes. And all fourteen of the "moderates" win as well.

Who loses? Reid & Co. They get nothing out of the deal -- except some cover. They didn't actually have to commit suicide on national tv.

Now, you can ask if this calculus was what was driving this deal or whether this is an unintended effect. Likewise, you can ask if Frist yet knows he's won and Reid that he's lost. But in the end it makes no difference: the facts on the ground are the facts on the ground.

creepy dude

NR-the Dems could have just voted for cloture on each nominee and avoided the whole thing, but don't waste your soothing words here. Get over to FreeRepublic where your less enlightened brethren are seething with rage and ready to throw Frist overboard.

Me, I love Frist for the fool he is and if you can talk your co-religionists into keeping him, more power to you.

TJ Jackson

Does anyopne believe the RINOs are going to do anything but the Spector act? Regardless of what they say you just know they roll over at the first opportunity to curry favorable press from the media.

What makes they worse is that the Supreme Court just told federal judges they can cite foreign laws in their decisions. Is there anyone who wishes to be ruled by five senile old tryants?

Tom Maguire

Why is this red herring appearing with such frequency on the right? Perhaps because the shame of a do-nothing Congress, when you hold both houses and the Presidency, weighs too heavily?

Works for me. Although it is unfair to call the President's push on Social Security "nothing"; "Less Than Zero" may capture it.

Neo

I don't think either party caucus could possibly call this "deal" a "victory" as both had members stay away form the caucus leadership, but this "deal" is the price of bring calm to the Senate. The Repubs exchanged two nominees for a decent level of comity with the Dems.
The partisans on both sides might feel that they lost their chance at a "ton of whupass" or the ton they expected to inflict next week, but the real bottom line here is that both the majority and minority leaderships (i.e. Frist and Reid) and the remaining members of their caucus got a real kick in the teeth.
Both senatorial caucuses will now have to figure out how they are going to handle this breakdown in party discipline, especially in the Democratic caucus where this vote was tantamount to a blood oath.
With Graham now talking about the "Gang of 14" having their own Social Security Plan in a few weeks, both Senate leaderships have now got to worry about erosion of their power or, worse, cooping of the "Gang" by the other caucus. The Democrats "3 Monkeys" approach ("hear no evil, speak .., see ..) to Social Security may make them look like the winners in this regard for the near term, but Harry Reid has the same problem as Bill Frist in trying to wrestle control of their caucus back to the "leadership" before the next "big thing" comes along.
The "Gang of 14" made some points about the President taking up a more interactive role in the "Advice" phase, but lost in all the yelling, screaming and gnashing of teeth is the simple fact the George Bush never signed off on the "deal."

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