Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And the loser is .... Social Conservatives!

Well, I'll keep the site poll up a little bit longer just to show how in the minority I am with the readership here, but a compromise on judicial filibusters has been reached and the Senate has retreated from partisan brinkmanship. In the end, it's a net win for the Democrats and, particularly, Senate Minority Leader Reid.

I've read plenty of posts elsewhere by other liberals declaring this a sell-out, a horrible deal, blah, blah. Most of these people are living in the world where things are as they should be (like there really was a President Bartlett,) and not the world we live in. Fact is, while Reid may be from Nevada, I'm glad he didn't take the nuclear gamble, because he was two committed votes shy of where he needed to be and the number of possible converts was quickly diminishing if not already gone.

What would these liberals have said had there been no compromise and Frist had won? Wait until next November? Hardly a good rallying point given the relative little attention the American people were giving this issue.

In the end, when the majority wants to do something, has the votes, but the minority is able to prevent it anyway, then the minority has won. Some conservatives and pessimistic liberals have said that this compromise merely means the inevitable is but delayed. Hooey. By compromising and allowing the continued filibuster of the other nominees and recognizing the right to future filibusters, these moderate Republicans are on record saying that there was nothing unconstitutional about judicial filibusters. If that time comes down the road, how can they vote with Chaney and Frist, and then say it is?

Some tin-earred liberals act like the fact we are in the minority doesn't matter, and Reid should have rejected the compromise and his failure to do so is a defeat. Some will irrationally argue that it's a bad compromise because three ultra-conservative judges will now receive a floor vote where they likely will be confirmed.

I hate to be disrespectful, but I find nothing to respect in such ridiculous logic. At the end of the day, you look at what you walk away from the table with given the cards you were dealt. Reid leaves the table with the filibuster being established Senate precedent, the rule to invoke cloture firmly in place, the ability to block future nominations firmly in place, and almost all of the filibustered nominees still blocked. Plus, the American people see the Democrats more than the GOP as a responsible party and one they would like to see govern and not spoiled, out-of-touch extremists. Given that Reid didn't have the votes, that's remarkable bit of gamemanship.

On the other hand, Frist, who begin with the best hand dealt, walks away wearing nothing but a barrel. By embarking on the nuclear option, Frist has revealed himself to be a panderer of the religious conservatives and out of the mainstream. While Dobson's comment may seem to offer praise and gratitude to Frist, it's an empty gesture. Dobson's anger is probably greater with Frist than the moderates. As Majority Leader, to have a bunch of non-players, as the moderates are viewed by Dobson, to be able to do an end-run around Frist calls his leadership in question. So Frist is stuck on the far right with a crowd that cannot trust him to deliver. Frist in '08 indeed.

I've already read that perhaps the deal also included one of the un-filibustered nominees being rejected. If so, then this is even a better deal. Bush and Frist insisted that the filibuster was unconstitutional and every nominee should receive an "up-or-down" vote. They lost, despite being the governing party. No whining from defeatist liberals is going to change my mind about that.

Of course, the runner-up must go to the Whitman-moderate Republicans. By simply reminding the world that, yes, they are still at the table, they walk away victorious. Just as Jeffords was, this was another warning shot to the GOP: the moderates will not always be loyal footsoldiers to the radicial right, but will aligned themselves with Democrats to form a governing majority if they are constantly ignored by their party.

For the sake of next November, let's hope the GOP continues to NOT heed this lesson.


tings said...

I think you have what it takes to be a good blogger - knowledge, clarity of expression and passion. So even though you aren't posting very often, you will come to the notice of the community again when you have more time to blog.

I agree entirely with your post, so of course, I think it's one of the best I've read. I think it is interesting that we are now seeing the Senate push back against Bush on several fronts. I have heard more than a few Senators speaking on the floor in the past few days stressing the role of that body to advise and consent and it's equality with the executive branch.

OLS said...

I admit that I'm one of those tin-earred liberals who think we sold out. Not because the end result isn't good, but because I don't find this to be a "net win." We failed to stand up for the rights of the minority. I don't care if its the Republicans in the minority or the Democrats, the filibuster should exist to protect the minority against extremism. We are supposed to be the party of idealism (and not just the kind that comes with President Bartlett), and to sell the idealism of democracy is a pathetic act regardless of which party it comes from or what "good" comes out of it. I'm disappointed, even though in the end I think you're right that the result is good for Democrats.

On another note - will be posting on James Dobson shortly (tomorrow?) along with a post on George V's emotional speech re: Bolton.

Modern Esquire said...

How did the Democrats, by agreeing to compromise, NOT stand up for the rights of the minority??

If it had gone to a floor vote, Frist would have won and there would have been no judicial filibuster and a precedent to eliminate the filibuster for all appointment matters (i.e. Bolton).

As a result of agreeing to the compromise, the Democrats have preserved the use of the filibuster for judicial appointments and set a precedent for recognition of their use.

Secondly, by definition, a legislative comprimise is the furtherance of democracy, not selling it out. The heart of democracy is the practice of compromise. Indeed, the very notion of the filibuster is un-democratic.

The term "sell out" normally applies to a situation when a person gives up a sacred principle in furtherance of their own personal advancement. I simply don't see it here. You have to look at the situation in consideration of the alternative.

Had the Democrats rejected the compromise and lost on the floor vote, would the Bolton nomination been successfully delay on the cloture vote later this week?

As a result of the compromise, the filibuster remains. No compromise, the filibuster would be no more. What would the critics of the compromise had done in the alternative?