Once again, the Republicans have shown their skillfulness when it comes to resetting parameters. Until recently, the perception had been that Bush had consistently filled the courts with extreme conservatives, with only a handful of truly batty nominees failing to meet the standards of Democrats. Now, facing the threat of the "nuclear option," Democrats have backed down on these as well. Thanks to the "finest traditions of the Senate" (Robert Byrd's words yesterday), there's a new agreement under which, presumably, only the certifiably insane can possibly be blocked--or, to put it as the senators did, nominees can "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances." That way, if Bush's pick for a judgeship finally goes too far even for Republicans--if he nominates, say, an Irish setter who, during confirmation hearings, runs up and bites Orrin Hatch in the leg, then Democrats will be allowed to play the bad guys and employ their filibuster. Otherwise, they'd better hold off, since, if they don't, Republicans might have to take the filibuster away for real.
He also thinks that Senator Frist's apparent misery in his floor speech was not over his impending doom with the Christian Coalition, but rather because it would look unseemly to cackle with delight over his victory. So TNR is angry because Democrats didn't fight hard enough, and Kos is defending a compromise with Republicans on an issue they've deemed to be of critical significance. Are pigs flying yet?
Speaking of surprising, this post from Powerline really threw me.
An excerpt from the statement on last night's "compromise" by Ralph Neas, head of the far-left People for the American Way:The explicit language of the agreement reached tonight by a group of senators rejects the nuclear option, preserves the filibuster and ensures that both political parties will have a say in who is appointed to our highest courts. The agreement embodies the very principle of consultation and consensus that the filibuster encourages. This is good news for the American people. Saving the Senate's constitutional advice and consent role, and the checks and balances that protect judicial independence, is especially important with multiple vacancies expected on the Supreme Court.
Except for the part about it being good for the American people, I think he is exactly right.
So, wait. If the only part you disagree with is that you think it wasn't good for the American people, then you agree that the compromise "embodies the very principle of consultation and consensus" and that "saving the Senate's constitutional advice and consent role, and the checks and balances that protect judicial independence, is especially important" in the coming days.
Powerline Blog: Opposing consultation, consensus, and checks and balances since 2005.
While we're on the subject, Powerline and Crooks and Liars got some time on TV discussing the filibuster. You can see the video clip here.
In any event, I stand by my previous assertion: I think in the long run, Democrats are going to see this as a victory. At the very least, I'm expecting a much bigger fall-out on the right side of the aisle. I have yet to see an equivalent of this piece over at Southern Appeal, or this one.
And finally, where is The Volokh Conspiracy in all of this? They've yet to write a single post on the compromise.