Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Nuclear Fizzle

The Democrats scored a big win last night. They proved that obstruction with a heck of a lot of falsely righteous rhetoric forks much lighting in Washington. It's now the mantra not the law that matters.

I was ready to go into an extended rant, but I think the best wisdom on the web goes to uber-blogger Hugh Hewitt with this post. Be sure to read the links within it to other blog greats.

Hugh is not pleased with the result, but he does appropriately point out some positives in the deal. But I can't completely agree with Hugh, insofar as there are significant latent negatives. My friend Jonathan Last over at Galley Slaves offers this fairly brief and appropriate analysis of the "extraordinary circumstances" provision of the agreement, which to me means that the Democrats retain the filibuster in all cases. After all, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown were "extremists" and extraordinary if you listen to the Democrats.

Hugh does a nice job deconstructing John McCain and Chuck Hagel. I have little regard for McCain, as he has truly descended into the realm of the unreliable, but that's just his way. But Hagel will receive a special beating here. He had nothing tangible to gain by stabbing his party in the back on this issue where he has no real-world credibility. But given how close the vote was, he was able to create enough of a problem for the leadership that it made it safe for the likes of Voinovich, Specter, Murkowski and Warner, among others, to wander. Whether Hagel would have ultimately come back to vote for the Constitutional Option is irrelevant. He has been increasingly disloyal for no real purpose other than to gain some more face time with the press in order to advance his fortunes. But the Senator might have wanted to remember that he comes from the State of Nebraska, where his fairly conservative base may not be so amused at the very real problems his unprincipled on-camera wavering has caused. It may be time for him to go dark for a while and support his party's legislation. That's the only thing that will save his rear.

Chafee and Snow are essentially tossed into the Republican party wastebasket. Unreliable, quick to fear the wrath of Reid and the Democrats, and nearly never with their party on a close vote when principle is at stake, they may as well jump parties. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee had better not lend them a cent for 2006. Begone.

And then there is the turncoat, Arlen Specter. Rick Santorum and President Bush spent quite a good deal of money and political capital to save him from a very credible primary challenge last year. They would have preferred the more conservative challenger Pat Toomey, but Specter seemed the more electable. But November had not closed before Specter forgot who helped him. He indicated that he was potentially going to chart a course away from Bush, and deal with judicial nominees in a much more Leahyesque manner. And in this dispute, he has much more favored the party that opposed him in the general election than the one that saved him both there and possibly from certain death in a primary. This frankly treasonous defection is inexcusable. It's one thing to vote against the party. It's quite another, like Hagel, to put down cover to allow others to defect for a period of months. He stabbed his rescuers just as they brought him into the boat.

And Bill Frist's career is over this morning. It's one thing to fight to keep people on the reservation. It's quite another to fail to even establish the boundaries of it. Frist is a uniquely weak leader, and I concur with almost all of Hugh's reasoning here. There is no consequence for crossing him. The man has repeatedly demonstrated that he has neither spine nor guts, and but for pressure from the White House, Tom Daschle and Harry Reid would have ruled the Senate under Frist. But contrary to Hugh's assertion, I can't see this as being a recoverable loss for the Senator from Tennessee. He has repeatedly granted the Democrats undeserved courtesies despite regular mistreatment received in return. And here again, Frist refused to put down the cover that his party members needed to much more fearlessly take up the Constitutional option until it was largely too late. In any case, polling data suggested that Frist had popular support for the Constitutional option, as people don't like filibusters unless there is a real reason for them. Pulling off the legislative victories that Hugh discusses could advance the majority Leader's future fortunes, but even then, I think the guy has not the cajones to pull even that off if the Democrats put up real opposition. His graciousness to the Dems was returned with the kill shot to his political ambitions. Go back to Tennessee and mend some fences with the former Vice President.

Yes, we got some judges their floor votes, but the problem of the filibuster remains, with only subjective prohibitions on its use. And are the Republicans stupid enough to think that these Democrats wont find plenty of "extraordinary circumstances" to filibuster? Please.

The above-mentioned NRSCC will send out its regular donation requests soon. Be certain that you fill out all surveys completely, but indicate that you will be sending no funds at this time. Because you should only contribute when you believe in what the party is actually trying to do. When they are trying to do nothing, make your check out in that same amount. So I cannot in good conscience support a Republican majority that fears an increasingly noisy but politically isolated Democrat minority. Because the Dems may actually ressurect themselves at the hands of these weak Republicans.


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