Friday, April 22

Nuclear Option Approaching Fail-Safe Point

Owen, Brown Confirmed; Democrats Threaten Filibuster; Santorum Hits The Brakes?

Today, the Republicans used their majority advantage to press Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen and California judge Janice Rogers Brown out of committee and to the Senate floor, where Democrats are expected to filibuster them.

The big shock, though, was a report by The Hill which suggested that Rick Santorum, an advocate of the "nuclear option," was backing off because of poor polling results. Santorum has denied this report.

The fact that the Republicans renominated Owen and Brown is unsurprising, and they're taking advantage of the fact that they're women. From the FOX News link, Orrin Hatch said, "It's pathetic what they are doing to these two women and I think it's time for women all over America to start standing up and say, 'Hey, enough is enough.'" Bill Frist also commented on their gender, saying, "In the last Congress, these highly qualified women were blocked by a partisan filibuster when Democrats refused to give them an up or down vote."

Also in The Hill, former Clinton pollster Dick Morris warns that the "nuclear option" will lead to catastrophe:
The filibuster, once seen as the last refuge of racists seeking to thwart the progress of civil-rights legislation, has increasingly become part of our checks-and-balances system. Changing the rules in the Senate will be seen as the modern equivalent of the court-packing scheme of FDR . . .

The Schiavo case amplifies the concern of moderate voters over a possible rules change to block filibusters. The attitude of GOP conservatives, led by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), that moderate judges needed to be punished for their independence sends a chill up the spines of most independent voters.

With the filibuster decision bookended by the Terry
[sic] Schiavo case before and a Supreme Court confirmation battle likely following it, the issue has the potential to spell disaster for the Republican Party . . .

[A]n attempt to switch the rules in the middle of the game on judicial filibusters will really make his alliance with the Christian right the main issue in his second-term presidency, with disastrous results.
I despise pollmeisters like Dick Morris because their very existence is a microcosm of everything I hate about politics: that to some people, that which is right and good is only and always that which is politically expedient. Still, this is his niche, and he's got a Newsweek poll to back him up.

There's still enough time before the "nuclear option" crosses the point of no return, though. Power Line's Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff highlighted a possible way out in an addendum to a post by John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker:
[I]f the Republicans could make the Democrats actually filibuster Owen or Brown for an extended period, the public would conclude (a) that the Dems have had their opportunity for full debate and/or (b) that such debate, when undertaken by the Democrats, isn't all it's cracked up to be.
If the Republicans are going to choose the "nuclear option" (and given the angry warnings by the base if they don't, they probably will), they should at least initially pause to give the Democrats enough rope to hang themselves. The GOP will gain valuable political capital if the Democrats, while filibustering "the women," say moronic things like this:
Jumping through hoops to ingratiate themselves to their party's base while step-by-step and day-by-day real problems that keep Americans up at night fall by the wayside here in Washington. We each have to ask ourselves, "Who's going to stop it?" Who's going to stand up and say, "Are we really going to allow this to continue?" Are Republicans in the House going to continue spending the people's time defending Tom DeLay or they going to defend America and defend our democracy?
That'd be John Kerry, on the Senate floor, demonstrating once again his propensity to get things exactly backwards. For one, during the 2004 election, Kerry jumped through more flamin' hoops than Evel Knievel to placate his frothing-rabid base. Also, with all these crises stacking up on the Senate floor, Kerry and his party have decided that their most important priority is the nearly-unprecedented invoking of an indefinite stalling tactic because they don't like some judicial nominees. Exactly why they find Owen and Brown so unappealing has yet to be really spelled out, but an impending Bill Frist-led theocracy spooks Kerry enough:
Will Republican senators let their silence endorse Senator Frist's appeal to religious division, or will they put principle ahead of partisanship and refuse to follow him across that line? Are we really willing to allow the Senate to fall in line with the Majority Leader when he invokes faith, faith, all of our faiths over here? Joe Lieberman's a person of faith. Harry reid's a person of faith. And they don't believe we should rewrite the rules of the United States Senate, and we certainly shouldn't allow this issue of people who believe in the Constitution somehow challenging the faith of others in our nation . . .
Whatever. Kerry can't stand anybody who allows faith to influence their political decisions. Even though he appeared on "The Tonight Show" wearing a leather jacket and blue jeans, he's singing the opposite of the song most associated with that outfit:
Oh, but I need some time off from that emotion
Time to pick my heart up off the floor
And when that love comes down without devotion
Well, it takes a strong man, baby
But I'm showing you the door

'Cause you CAN'T a-have faith-a-faith-a-faith
You CAN'T a-have faith-a-faith-a-faith!
Returning from Moonbat Island, there's an interesting dichotomy going on at the group spinoff blog, ConfirmThem. A contributor named quin predicts a conservative revolt if the GOP doesn't follow through on the "nuclear option"; however, three posts later Paul Zummo expresses skepticism that the Democrats can regain the Senate majority if the Republicans do go ahead. Well, which is it? If the races are close enough that an angered Republican base can scuttle them, then they're close enough for the Democrats to rouse enough moderates to unseat them.

The lines are being drawn. The armies are amassing at the border and the rhetorical missiles are being aimed and armed. Somebody's going to get trapped on this. I'd rather the Republicans bait the Democrats into overcommitting than the other way around.


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

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Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

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Psst, it's "Mike."

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