There’s a lot of discussion among Republican and Democrats about the Senate’s compromise which allows Senate approval of three right-wing Republican extremists to the federal bench and guarantees, at least till the end of this Congressional session, that the ‘nuclear option’ is off the table. This is the New York Times article announcing the compromise.
The fateful 14 (credit: Doug Mills/NYT)
The fateful 14 senators themselves were proud of their statesmanship in a battle that potentially could have meant disaster for both parties and the Senate itself. Harry Byrd, in his typically pompous (but lovable) way said: ""We have kept the Republic." Sorry, Harry, but I’m afraid you’ve done nothing of the sort. You’ve merely stitched together a temporary compromise that could unravel at any time, including during the current session. The language of the compromise is terribly vague. And even language that is fairly clear doesn’t appear to hold much hope that it will be honored:
We encourage the executive branch of government to consult with members
of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a
judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.
First, George Bush doesn’t want to compromise. He wants to tear Democrats limb from limb. He will certainly never honor the spirit or letter of this request from the senators. Furthermore, Bill Frist and Senate Republican leaders aren’t really bound by the compromise or its language either. Why would the Senate Majority Leader want to seek advice and consent of Democrats when–till his chair was pulled out from under him yesterday by his fellow Republican moderates–he was steaming full speed ahead toward nuclear war?
No, this is but a respite in the Armageddon like struggle that lies ahead. While I’m no political seer or prognosticator, I believe that, like House Republicans in the Age of Newt who overreached in their budget battle with Bill Clinton, Senate Republicans will eventually strip the filibuster from Democrats. Then, they will proceed to confirm every single last one of those extremist judicial nominees. All Democrats have to do is keep the issue before the American people through the next election. They will see that a grave injustice has been done not just to Democrats, but to the institution of Congress and, yes Harry, to the Republic itself. And those judges will be tarnished because their confirmation will have been rammed through the Senate like a steamroller. The American people don’t like bullies and that’s how they’ll see Congressional Republicans.
Is this a high stakes game which could backfire on Democrats? You bet. That’s why those 7 Democrats blinked. They were afraid that passage of the nuclear option will cause Democrats to lose what little power they have to determine the shape of the federal judiciary. But the way I see it is that this compromise only allows the Senate to live to fight another day. And the day of nuclear reckoning will come.