Monday, April 25, 2005

Nuking the Opposition

Bill Frist edges closer to the Nuclear Option. I have my own thoughts about this, but the Centrist Coalition sums it up best here, and Joe Gandelman plows into it here. Joe asks all the right questions:

So if the "precedents that worked so well for 214 years" are at stake, why does the filibuster rule exist — and why have people such as Senator Bob Dole cautioned Frist against eliminating it? And why are Republicans running away from the phrase "nuclear option" as if they're horses in the third race at Del Mar?

Gandelman also spells out the potential consequences for both parties:

1. IF THEY LOSE Bill Frist could suffer a setback in his unannounced Presidential bid. This is a critical issue to social conservatives.

2. IF THEY WIN Democrats have vowed to tie up some Senate business.

3. GOPers WHO DON'T VOTE THE PARTY LINE will likely be targeted by conservative groups.

4. IF THE PRESS LETS THE GOP REWRITE HISTORY it will indicate American journalism has lost the essential backbone nurtured through the centuries. You don't let sources reframe news into p.r. if you're a good reporter — and it doesn't matter if you're a conservative or liberal. Sources don't dictate the explanation. The FACTS do.

5. IF THEY WIN depending on the degree of anger on the part of Democrats and backlash on the part of independents it could be one more step towards a realignment of parties — which is what some believe Karl Rove wants, anyway.

6. IF THEY WIN the big question is how traditional and libertarian Republicans will react to it. They may feel it is totally justified and not in the same class as some other controversies.

7. IF THEY WIN and the Democrats overreact, the Democrats could be further hurt by it.

8. No matter what: polarization has increased because of the way this issue is being handled.

This isn't good for either side, and is only likely to destroy whatever bipartisanship we have left. As Frist whines about judges and obstructionist tactics ad nauseum, no one sheds a tear for Clinton's vastly larger number of appointees blocked by Republicans. Because, of course, those were dangerous out-of-the-mainstream liberals, but a judge who thinks all zoning laws are "thievery" is perfectly normal and in-step with what Americans believe. Yeah, right. I put high stock in the Kaus line of reasoning on this. If we should keep filibusters for anything, it should be judges. They have lifelong appointments and therefore should be screened and compromised on way more than any legislation or executive branch appointee.