"Extraordinary circumstances" in Washington
In a must read column, today's
Wall Street Journal exposes the sham that has been perpetrated by the 14 so-called "moderates" in crafting their "compromise" on judicial nominations, and rightly pegs the motivation as being one of shielding themselves from having to cast politically awkward and public votes in a showdown over the filibuster, rather than the much ballyhooed "saving of the Republic".
Further, the Journal makes an excellent point that in crafting the vague language of "extraordinary circumstances" for triggering a filibuster, the "compromise" has opened the door to more bloody and dirty "Borkings" of future Supreme Court nominees, as opponents will dig deeper and deeper into the backgrounds of potential nominees in order to justify the "extraordinary circumstance.
Let's just say it one more time so it's clear. Until a few years ago a filibuster had never been used as a means of defeating a judicial nominee. The filibuster is generally a tool for defeating or holding up legislation. By employing the filibuster, the Democrats have in effect, changed the Constitution by requiring a 60 vote super majority for judicial nominations.
The so-called "nuclear option", would only have eliminated the filibuster as applied to judicial nominations, in essence, returning the situation to the "status quo ante", the situation which had existed for all of history prior to a few years ago.
The "nuclear option" would NOT apply to the filibuster as an option to be used to block or defeat legislation.
The Republican party, AGAIN, has lost the spin battle on this issue, by not even engaging it. There seems to be no coordinated Republican message machine to counter all the lies routinely generated between the media and the constant spin of the Democrats.
You have to give them credit, by sticking together, and by fighting like back street fighters, the Democrats have figured out a way to get their way even with the pathetic numbers that they now hold in the Congress.
Meanwhile Republicans seem to have mastered the fine art of acting like losers when they hold all the cards. Until someone in the Republican party (and so far the President has not stepped forward in the manner of Ronald Reagan to push the Congress to do his and the people's bidding) steps up to the plate and starts whipping the votes into line, we will have not a majority party, but disparate groups and cabals of self-promoting and cowering cowards running for cover at every opportunity to take a stand. It's a sorry sight for conservatives who believed that finally we would see some real conservative governance from Washington.
Let's face it -- there is a vaccuum of leadership in this party -- from the President on down. Where are the Reagans? Where are the Gingriches of our time? Seeking comity and hiding behind their press secretaries it seems, while the nation implodes, and the base and the people seeth. What a sorry sight.
Judging by all of the self-congratulation, you'd think the 14 Senators who reached a deal Monday on judicial nominations were the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers. "We have kept the Republic," declared Democrat Robert Byrd, with all due modesty. "The Senate won" and "the country won," added Republican John McCain. All 14 are apparently destined for Mount Rushmore, as soon as Mr. Byrd can stuff the money for the sculpture into an appropriations bill.
What a charade. This ballyhooed "compromise" is all about saving the Senators themselves, not the Constitution. Its main point is to shield the group of 14 from the consequences of having to cast difficult, public votes in a filibuster showdown. Thus they split the baby on the most pressing nominees, giving three of them a vote while rejecting two others on what seem to be entirely arbitrary grounds, so Members of both parties can claim victory. Far better to cashier nominees as a bipartisan phalanx, rather than face up to their individual "advice and consent" responsibilities.
. . . As for the future, the deal's impact hangs on the exquisite ambiguity of the phrase "extraordinary circumstances." The seven Democrats promise to filibuster only if a nomination reaches that threshold, which will of course be in the eye of every beholder. Taken at face value, and if the Democrats mean what they say, this should rule out a filibuster against anyone but a crook or incompetent. The political costs of opposing a Supreme Court nominee are also higher than for an appeals-court judge because the country is paying closer attention. Thus a filibuster will not be easy for Red State Democrats to support.
. . .The President is granted the power to nominate judges under the Constitution because he is the only official elected by the entire nation. He shouldn't cede that authority to 14 Senators in desperate search of political cover.