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May 23, 2005


I really don't understand what Reid was thinking.

I thought the deal was going to involve trading cloture on some of the current judges in exchange for a promise not to go nuclear.

Instead he traded cloture on three in exchange for no cloture on two, kicking the nuclear issue down the road.

Either this was lousy bargaining, or I'm missing something crucial.

Reid loves it. Frist thinks it 'falls short'. Tells you what you need to know.

Petey, you were not enamored of the N.O., yes? But Reid comes across as a compromising grown-up, still with 'abuse of power' accusations, who 'helped' avert a situation many (not all) Senators didn't want to have happen. Frist comes across as a calculating loser, about to get summoned to explain what happened to the power brokers in the Religious Right. The politics seem clear

As to the details, I don't know what they are yet. It's also not clear to me that Brown, at least passes. But I'll trade Brown for a crack at a SCOTUS filibuster, if necessary. And it will be necessary.

I think Frist would have won, tomorrow..

Is it possible what Kagro X says in the other thread is true -- that Owen, Brown and Pryor may not have the votes of some on the GOP side of this agreement? That would be a sweetener, which we wouldn't know about till there was a roll call.

But on the surface, this seems like a pretty shabby compromise for the side with the moral high ground.

"Reid loves it. Frist thinks it 'falls short'. Tells you what you need to know."

I think it's a bit more complicated than that.

Frist, due to where he's boxed himself in, would have to disapprove of any deal that denied cloture to anyone. Reid, since he's assumedly signed off on any deal, would have to love it.

Reid is a poker player. It's impossible to know if he really likes it. But since it happened, he knows the correct spin is to treat it like a victory.

McCain is probably the big winner so far. Frist is the loser, but whether a loss for Frist is a win for the Democrats is a debatable topic.

Most of the story has yet to play out. We don't know for a fact whether Owens, Pryor, and Rogers Brown will all be approved; if, hypothetically, the moderate R's indicated they were inclined to block one of the three, that's not really something you would put in writing as part of the deal, so we won't know until we know.

As for what happens further down the road - will the D's try and filibuster the very next nominee? Will the R's whip out the nuclear option again the first chance they get? The ball is really with the White House now - if they take this as a shot across their bow and start acting more presidential and less imperial, maybe there won't be further friction. The past 5 years suggests, however, that they're going to pick a fight at the very first opportunity.

"But I'll trade Brown for a crack at a SCOTUS filibuster"

The problem is that the nuclear option will be just as available for a SCOTUS nomination as it is now. And given the dynamics, I'd rather be having the nuclear fight now than in the face of a SCOTUS nomination.

To me, this is the worst of all possible worlds.

- Making Frist actually win the nuclear vote has an upside.
- Reaching a deal that takes the nuclear option off the table for the rest of this Congress has an upside.

But this? I don't see the logic.

The only thing we know is that the R moderates made this deal because they really, really didn't want to have to face the choice of either voting with their leadership on something that stunk or bucking their leadership. It may well be that when the deal went down we didn't have the votes. It is easier to vote no on a judge than uphold an unair and wrong ruling of the chair.

This isn't over. Every time Bush tries to wring something more from these turnips he loses a bit more, and at some point even they will have had enough. It remains to be seen whether he sees that. This is just one step on a long road. And I agree Brown may not have the votes.

Do you see the WH strengthened by this or weakened? I see all the planning by Cheney, et al to seize the intitiative as falling short.

Bolton isn't nearly as important as the judges, but I look to see what happens with him as well. What with the polls, the troubles in Iraq and the hit on American image abroad, not to say economic tropubles ahead, and we may have just seen the high-water mark of the Bush imperial presidency.

I'm with Robert Byrd. Declare the republic saved and move on.

Petey, I think the possibility of trying it again would be politically disastrous. Frist looked awful when admitting it wasn't that great. He's toast.

Plus, the most important thing I've heard came from Lindsay Graham, who said something like "now the White House will have to work with the Senate to determine who would be a good judge."

Defeat for Frist, defeat for Bush/Cheney, defeat for the right wing, big win for McCain, it just protected Ben Nelson's Senate seat, Byrd's now stronger, probably even untouchable in the next election, and the Senate just made Bush a lame duck less than six months into his second term.

"Defeat for Frist, defeat for Bush/Cheney, defeat for the right wing, big win for McCain, it just protected Ben Nelson's Senate seat, Byrd's now stronger, probably even untouchable in the next election, and the Senate just made Bush a lame duck less than six months into his second term."

McCain and Ben Nelson are the only ones of your conclusions I agree with. (Byrd was already safe.)

Bush/Cheney/Frist is strengthened. Reid is weakened. The SCOTUS fight has just been lost.

Byrd may retire.

If Frist and the WH try to push this again, it will be clearer than ever that they are are power-mad and totally controlled by the radical religious right. I don't by any means put it past them to try. But I think this deal has left Reid and the McCain "moderates" in a much stronger position to push back. I think a second attempt at the nuclear option will be even more unpopular with the public than the first attempt.

That said, it would probably be smart to continue sounding off about this "power grab", especially in the 14 senators' home states. You know the right wing will keep pushing this issue and trying to brainwash the public.

If the Republicans are stupid enough to try this again, it should hurt them in the '06 election.

I see this as a battle. We won a closely fought battle (or rather our main opponent lost). But we've also dramatically changed the deployment of the forces on both sides. I'm not sure we'll be able to take this battle victory onto a win. But I suspect Reid is viewing this as a battle--and is already thinking about how to fight the next one.

Provided we don't let down our guard, and provided we use this to get some momentum, and provided that Reid continue to nurture this block carefully, it may provide us with the tools to win the next battle--by an even larger margin.

Cindy K: I agree with everything you said 100%.

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