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May 24, 2005


If Brown fails, as many have noted, the deal is all the sweeter. But seeing is believing, and no one is predicting this is anything but a temporary respite in the culture wars to come.

Good line from EJ Dionne in his "Specter must be pleased" column:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other Republicans who backed the nuclear option hurt themselves badly with shameful rhetoric suggesting that murder and mayhem, not honest differences, were at the heart of this battle.

Thus did Frist accuse the Democrats of wanting to "kill, to defeat, to assassinate" President Bush's nominees. Oh, my. That's what comes out when a Princeton graduate plays the role of counterfeit populist in pandering to the Christian right.

Hard to see this as anything but a short term victory for Republicans. Worse yet for Democrats. Bodies Bleeding Everywhere

Added this article to expanding links. Thanks for the great work.

Maybe I'm naive but I find this deal impossible to judge. We don't know, and probably never will know for sure, whether Reid had/could have had 51 votes. If he didn't, then the compromise doesn't look bad. In fact, I rather doubt that Specter would have sided with him; he owes Bush, Frist and Santorum too much.
To me, there are 2 key questions: 1. what happens to the three noxious nominees?; and 2. is this deal the first or only time that the Republican moderates will act independently of the White House? A few years ago, some of them were opposed to the President's plan to make the tax cuts permanent; will they now start to part ways with Bush on a few more issues?

KdmFromPhila: all true. Grahams's comment is very important. But while this isn't victory for Dems, it is a major defeat for Frist, though. Watch how this is played. In De Wine's Ohio (Columbus Dispatch - subscription):

Emerging from a private meeting shortly after 7 p.m., seven Republicans and seven Democrats announced they would oppose a bid by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, RTenn., to engineer a major change in Senate rules that would have prevented a minority of senators from blocking the confirmation of a federal-judgeship nominee.

By doing so, DeWine and the other Republicans denied Frist and his White House allies a chance to dramatically reshape the age-old Senate custom known as a filibuster, which is a tactic to delay a floor vote. Because it takes 60 senators to end a filibuster, the rule permits 41 senators to prevent a floor vote on any nominee they oppose, essentially giving the minority the power to kill a nomination.

But in return, the seven Democrats broke from their party’s leadership to hand Bush at least a partial victory in a protracted confirmation battle. The Democrats agreed to permit floor votes on three of Bush’s most controversial and conservative nominees.

That means the seven Democrats are virtually guaranteeing the confirmation of Priscilla R. Owen to the U.S. 5 th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Janice R. Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and William H. Pryor to the 11 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

In a final compromise that sealed the deal, the Republicans said they would not object to Democrats’ support of a filibuster to block two other Bush nominees — William Myers to the 9 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Henry Saad to the 6 th U.S. Circuit Court. Those nominations likely will fail.

I think Frist had the votes, but we'll never know. nonetheless, it'll take more than this to consider this more than a loss averted.

Thanks, Heretik. We don't need to agree on every point to agree that following the news is important. Thanks for the links.

Thanks for your response DemFromCt. I suspect that you are right(that Reid didn't have the votes or doubted that he would get the last 2.) If that's the case (and there's no way he would say that publicly) then this is a bigger win then it looks to some of us. If my speculation is accurate, then it's only a win on one issue, but when you have only 45 of 100 votes, you won't win often.

I find this humorous:

"Unfortunately, 14 senators are allowed to speak for all of America, and they're able to pick and choose the nominees they find acceptable," said Lanier Swann, "Rather than having a small minority of religious fundamentalists dictate the morals [sic] and behavior to the rest of the country, the way God [sic] wants it to be" Lanier continued.

Graham has said two things, I think, which may be related. First, that one of the three won't get through (although I'm beginning to think that'll be Pryor, because yes votes on Owen and Brown were early features of any compromise--I want it to be Brown, but Pryor is more of a compromise). And, that Bolton's nomination will be a slam dunk. I said yesterday that I hope the Gang of 14 plus moderates like Murkowski, Specter, and Hagel could be appealed to on the same principles of Senate oversight in question here to deny Bolton the position. But I'm less optimistic right now. We know Holy Joe wants Bolton. So he'd be really happy to throw Bolton into the compromise as a deal-sweetener.

Would I switch Bolton for Brown though? I guess so.

Brown has a lot more negatives than Pryor though, and is going on a more important court, so we'll see. If Pryor gets voted down, it would be a huge blow to the President's recess appointment power. I don't expect it though.

Okay, so I bailed out of here about 9:30 last night, still queasy, though taking DHinMI and DemfromCT's posts to heart. Now that I've slept on it:

1) We'll never know what the ultimate vote on nukes would have been; we're in the position of lawyers who settled a case just before jury deliberation. If they were going to convict, any deal is great; if acquittal was in the air, you cheated yourself. I hold to the position that, in the end, enough Senators would have blinked at the radicalness of the step...but then, I never thought the House would vote impeachment, so don't go by me.

2) If one of the odious three is going to be voted down (and Lindsey Graham's status as honest broker depends on it), then it's really a good deal for our side -- winning 3 of 5 agreed upon, rather than 2, tilts the balance our way.

3) If Bolton's confirmed or not, I think we win. A confirmed Bolton won't be like a judge, who disappears after confirmation and does his/her damage in the shadows, in collaboration with others. His actions -- especially if he's confirmed by a paper-thin margin -- will be scrutinized daily, and his past character suggests he'll do much to embarrass the administration. If part of what we want is clear illustration of the damage BushCo. is inflicting on the world, Bolton at the UN could do the job in the same way a Cheney cheat-ruling on nukes would have. (Not to discount the potential damage to the world community, but we're dealing with a smorgasbord of bad choices as long as this crowd holds office)

4) I still think there's a slim chance this compromise will turn out to be Munich. As Brownstein points out, the Graham understanding relies on Bush changing his M.O. vis a vis the Senate -- and Bush, the most bull-headed president I've seen in my approaching-long lifetime, would rather eat excrement than admit error. I keep hearing James Woolcott's phrase, that anyone who ever gave Bush benefit of doubt lived to regret it. But I'm willing to wait and see.

demtom: see my comments to RonK's subsequent post (from the Note):

7. When — and if — the deal falls apart. What happens to Brett Cavanaugh and William Haynes. (We checked this morning with tippy-top Republican and Democratic aides, and Democrats insist there's a side deal to drop them while Republicans think there's no deal at all. Do Democrats have reason to believe that the two won't get out of committee?)

Interpret that!!

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