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April 19, 2005

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Something the Republicans have proved most adept at is changing the rules for their own benefit - whether it's for blue-slipped judge nominees or redistricting mid-Census. I've always found their arrogance in this astonishing. But changing the "rules" regarding "advice and consent" so they can have it both ways simultaneously is breathtaking even for them.

If the Democrats ever get back into power, I hope they are as willing to play hardball - doing so ethically, of course - as the GOP has proved itself capable of.

The hearing is on C-SPAN 3. And Bolton's got his 10 votes.

When I look at the chess board, this means one thing to me:

Frist has his 50 votes.

And the time between now and November 2006 is going to be very interesting.

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The next decision is going to be whether or not the Dems will filibuster Bolton on the Senate floor.

At first glance, I hope they don't. I think a trap is being set...

Do you think so? Let's discuss the trap, because I think this is an unique opportunity, and I'd encourage it. Why not make them change the script for "Justice Sunday?"

"Let's discuss the trap..."

Puts the Dems in the position of using the filibuster to defend the UN and multilateralism ahead of the nuclear option fight.

Moves the filibuster fight into the territory of national security.

Helps the GOP increase polarization on the filibuster fight.

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If I put myself into Frist's or Rove's shoes, I'd welcome kicking off the real action on the nuclear option debate with Bolton. I'd think the thematics would play in my direction.

Fucking George Voinovich !?!

I obviously see it the opposite way, but that might stem from the guesswork we're both doing about whether or not Frist has the votes.

I think the judicial nominees have the bearing and decorum to pass, perhaps barely, as sympathetic figures. Plus, so much groundwork has been done to sell them as the ambassadors on the bench of "people of faith."

Not so with Bolton. He's repugnant, and an arrogant boss (something people understand) to boot. Considering that "Justice Sunday" is supposedly about ridding the bench, and government in general, of just such arrogance, forcing the inevitable use of the nuclear option on unexpected ground may be to our advantage.

If it's coming, it's coming. Why let it happen according to their plan?

How weird, unexpected, and dramatic was that?

In this age of pre-scripted political theatre, you don't hardly get sudden twists like that.

What now?

Well, I must admit I wasn't expecting a dramatic entrance from Voinovich, but it's not entirely out of the blue. In the comments to "Notes" Part III, I noted that Voinovich was reportedly on the fence regarding the nuclear option.

It might be that he sees this in the same terms. I certainly do.

So, did Voinovich just push any Bolton filibuster possibility back beyond the "Justice Sunday" window, and possibly into post-nuclear option territory?

Either the GOP is now ready to accede to killing his nomination in committee, or they're going to enhance the nuclear option to cover the entire executive calendar.

Confirming my "no vote" forecast. I'll let that one ride for the next round, too.

They'll still try to spin this to paint D's as obstructionists, but in this case I don't think it'll sell with the public ... or within thier own caucus.

Voinovich is an obstructionist, and maybe Hagel, too... no, that's not got the same ring to it as 'Democrats are obstructionist'.

You're right, RonK... won't sell.

"Confirming my "no vote" forecast. I'll let that one ride for the next round, too."

I also had a "no vote" forecast, at least until today's hearing began and Lugar let everyone know he had the votes. (It was weird - after Voinovich spoke, Lugar seemed like the last person in the room to understand what had just happened. It took him a while to realize he could no longer call for a vote today.)

And as for the next round, while the details are still uncertain, I'd say the odds of Bolton ever going to the UN just moved to somewhere between slim and none.

The ramifications of this are huge. It's the first Senate rebuke to this administration on foreign policy ever. It's the first win for State against Cheney in a very long time. And just as I thought Bolton's confirmation augured a Frist nuclear vote triumph, these developments indicate that things are probably still uncertain on the nuclear front...

(It was weird - after Voinovich spoke, Lugar seemed like the last person in the room to understand what had just happened. It took him a while to realize he could no longer call for a vote today.)

Huh-huh, yeah. That was cool. Huh-huh-huh.

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