"Nuclear Option" On Filibusters Avoided - For Now
Well, the news is not surprising, but there may still be consequences. 14 senators (seven from each party) stepped out of their respective partisan camps and sought (and ultimately achieved) a compromise. Depending on your perspective, this move may have averted an institutional disaster and subsequent virtual freeze on President Bush's high-profile intitiatives (e.g. Social Security reform) , or it represented a minority of weak-minded politicians afraid of sticking to their partisan (and perhaps personal) convictions.
The result of the emergency pow-wow held in Senator John McCain's office was this: Seven Republicans agreed to vote against a Constitutional (aka "Nuclear) option that would change the rules requiring 60 votes for judicial filibusters to a simple majority (51 votes); Seven Democrats agreed to allow the first three nominees (Owen, Brown and Pryor) to go through to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote (simple majority), and would consider filibusters on judicial nominees in the future under "extraordinary circumstances" only. Lots of wiggle room there, as any Democratic Senator (especially the mentally unstable and extremely liberal variety, like Kennedy or Reid) can find a way to claim this for any nominee with such a relative term.
John McCain, the primary Republican culprit in this "compromise," claims to trust the seven Democrats who joined this rag-tag club of "moderates" and calls the outcome "An agreement based on trust and reverence..."
What will be the political price that each of these 14 will have to pay? Might some suffer at the polls next time they run?
The Majority Leader, Senator Frist, has handled this development with honesty and grace, conceding that he is grateful for the advancement of the three nominees to a vote. "It has some good news and it has some disappointing news and it will require careful monitoring," he said."
On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Reid, continues his ridiculous and hateful spin against the President and Conservative Republicans. "We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical right of the Republican party an undeniable message ... the abuse of power will not be tolerated." What an ass.
Me personally, I would have preferred to see the showdown at high noon on Tuesday or Wednesday (if for no other reason, it would have made for GREAT reality T.V.) -- I respect big balls in a politician, and my take is that Senator Frist showed remarkable cajones, patience and will, while McCain is sadly lacking in the former. Honestly, I hope he proves me wrong.
The question on everyone's mind is this: What will the Democrats do when it is time to replace the Supreme Court Chief Justice, ailing William Rehnquist? My money is on another threat of filibuster from Reid and his cronies - any takers? This will be the moment of truth for John McCain and his trusting nature.