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May 25, 2005


I don't think the intercept problem is holding up the Bolton appointment. It may come up TODAY, with 40 hours of debate. And unfortunately, none of the Gang of 14 (well, none of Republicans) are talking about the issues they presumably cared enough about to make the compromise.

FWIW, the Dems seem like they'll vote against, even Holy Joe. But that will leave us with a 54-46 vote. Chafee and Hagel have publicly said no. Even with the Mainiacs and Specter, we couldn't prevent this from happening.

I assumed all along Bolton will be confirmed. The question in my mind (especially 'cause Bolton is really not a Dobson-Gary bauer issue) is which votes will he get, not the head count.

That will also tie into what happens in the Senate on stem cells... will Brownback filibuster?

Divisions and divisions, but they're still the party in power. All we can do is position ourselves to reduce the damage and prepare for 2006 and 2008.

This loss of party discipline is the biggest potential loss to the Republican party to come out of this compromise

Yup, that's going to be a lasting legacy of this deal. On Bolton, I've always assumed he'd be approved unless things got markedly worse than what they currently seem to be. What he did on the intercept is arguably similar to DeLay's use of DHS to track the plane with the Texas Democrats, and we all know how blase the Repubs were about that. I guess the difference between him and, say, Kerik, is that Bolton was an insider, so they'll try to deep-six any problems with his first marriage, or harrassment, or whatever.

... will Brownback filibuster?

If he does, it will underline the basic problem in the "nuclear option" for Frist, which is that most common-sense Americans who don't watch C-SPAN and cable news all day don't buy into the distinction between filibustering judicial nominees and filibustering other things. A filibuster is a filibuster is a filibuster. It can't be bad in one circumstance and good in another. So if the radical right uses the filibuster to bring down the stem-cell bill in the Senate, it becomes that much harder for Frist to argue for eliminating it when the Democrats use it to bring down judicial nominees.

Splitting hairs like this will not fly. Being right or wrong is not the issue. Ask John Kerry. If Frist continues to try to do it, or even actually succeeds in doing it, it will come back to haunt him and the radical right in 2006.

I should add that in my view the "nuclear option" is where Bush and Frist part ways. I believe Bush actually wants Democrats to filibuster his supreme court nominee. He wants his nominee to be a sainted martyr to the radical right's sense of victimization that Rove's political strategems rely upon. As I commented earlier, Bush wants another Bork. Frist, on the other hand, wants to be the hero by actually getting Bush's nominee confirmed. Bush is not so ambitious. Frist thinks doing so will get him the 2008 nomination. Maybe so, but then it also means he will lose the general election. It's one thing to threaten to cross a line. It's another thing to cross it.

I have labored affirmatively to draw no conclusions from who's woofing and who's weeping.

In fact, I've labored to draw no conclusions at all, lest confirmation bias obscure my read of the trail signs. [I may have thought I detected a "tell" in soembody's jaw muscles, but remember: these are all accomplished actors.]

By Independence Day, we'll know more how much of this this was a Declaration of Independence by the Mod's, and we'll have clues to unwritten understandings and bartered pounds of flesh implicit in The Deal.

Pass the popcorn.

TenThousand: I see where you're coming from, but I think there's good evidence that Bush really doesn't want a filibuster of a SC nominee, and really did want to get rid of the filibuster. Just yesterday, for example, C. Boyden Gray, who's led much of the strategy on the Nuclear Option, was on Diane Rehm's show on NPR. He was asked how his committee was formed, and he indicated it was at the request of the President. On the question of fundraising, he hedged on the overall amount raised, but when pressed did admit to amounts associated with specific events. One was a fundraiser hosted by George HW Bush. At the other, the headliner was Jeb's son George P. Bush.

That tells me Bush wanted the Nuclear Option really bad.

"I believe Bush actually wants Democrats to filibuster his supreme court nominee. He wants his nominee to be a sainted martyr to the radical right's sense of victimization that Rove's political strategems rely upon."

That was the Dick Morris thesis, too. The evidence for its truth, aside from intuition, is that the WH was trying to get the Bolton nomination done *before* the nuclear showdown, and Frist rebuffed them.

Oh, the wingers would rather not have a martyr like Bork if it means his replacement would be like Anthony Kennedy. By not getting Bork, they got the guy who wrote the opinions on both the case overthrowing the sodomy laws and the case overthowing the use of capital punishment for juveniles. Even more than Stevens or Bryer, Kennedy has become the wingers' poster boy for what's wrong with the judiciary.

Bork would also have created a majority for the anti-flag-burning law.

I realize it's no news to anyone here, but the way the wingnuts keep complaining about Kennedy (vis a vis Bork) exposes the full dishonesty of their approach to judges. They KNOW Bork would have voted with Scalia/Thomas on those isues DHinMI cites, and it drives them crazy he's not there to do it. Yet they claim to pick judges not to achieve results, but based on their judicial temperament -- it's us big bad lefties who decide the results on "ideology".

I assume the right-wing (and Karl Rove) will play the victim card in every defeat, but I tend to agree, they'd prefer victory on this judge thing. They crave absolute power, and only a flurry of right-wing judicial appointments can pave the way for some of their loonier notions.

emptywheel, we now know what Jay Rockefeller will do:

WASHINGTON, May 25 - The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said today that John R. Bolton might have mishandled classified information by sharing with another State Department official details about a communication intercepted by the National Security Agency.

I could analyze the SCOTUS at much greater length, but there is absolutely no reason for Bush's first nominee to come from the list of broadly acceptable conservatives. That is not how the man plays ball. Prepare yourself for the wingiest of the wingnuts.

DHinMI: Yes, I must admit after writing that I had second thoughts. That what I wrote was wishful thinking. Frist was doing Bush's bidding. The idea that Frist was leading the way on this without the full support of the White House is of course ludicrous.

As a result, I tend to agree with the analysis that has emerged on this site, that what is most important about the "extraordinary circumstances" agreement is that it represents a group of Senate Republicans breaking ranks with the White House.

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