Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Guarantee that Isn't

The compromise hammered out over the confirmation problem in the Senate last night sounds good until you realise it's no guarantee at all, in spite of what deluded Democrats seem to think:

On the one hand, Democrats view the pact as containing an understanding that would forbid the Republicans from trying to vanquish the filibuster in such an instance, while Republicans asserted last night that they could still move to change the rules if Democrats violated the agreement.

"If an individual senator believes in the future that a filibuster is taking place under something that's not extraordinary circumstances, we, of course, reserve the right to do what we could have done tomorrow," said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, another lawmaker instrumental in the compromise.
(Frist) said "bad faith and bad behavior" would force him to bring back the nuclear option.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican, said, "The way I read it, all options are still available with the timing to be determined."

But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said the pact had resolved the long-running fight. From his perspective, Mr. Reid said, the rules change is "off the table."

That's great. Once again the Democrats are deluding themselves. These first three idiots, the egregious Priscilla Owens among them, will be confirmed. Then Frist will demand the others be voted on. And then we'll see what this "agreement" is worth. My guess is, it's absolutely worthless.

UPDATE: Senator Russ Feingold agrees (via):

This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions. I value the many traditions of the Senate, including the tradition of bipartisanship to forge consensus. I do not, however, value threatening to disregard an important Senate tradition, like occasional unlimited debate, when necessary. I respect all my colleagues very much who thought to end this playground squabble over judges, but I am disappointed in this deal.

And Crooks and Liars has links to a bunch of feedback from a wide array of sources. Needless to say, the Repug crazies aren't pleased.

Avedon Carol isn't impressed either:

This is, of course, exactly how the current Republican leadership has handled pretty much every issue. Don't like a treaty? Just pretend it doesn't stand. Don't like a Constitutional right? Ditto. The judiciary doesn't have its own police force, so even a Supreme Court ruling can be ignored (as has been done with regard to the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo) so the Republicans can do what they want.

But what makes this deal a deal? All it says is that if Democrats find judges so extreme that they filibuster, the Republicans will break the rules to override them, so if the Democrats stop filibustering, the Republicans won't break the rule.

There's a vague exception that says if the circumstances are extraordinary, the Democrats will still filibuster, but if one Republican thinks there's a filibuster and it isn't really extraordinary, they'll still pull the nuclear option.

So, to start with, we have raised the bar on what constitutes "extraordinary circumstances", since we now have an agreement not to filibuster three extraordinarily extreme judges - Brown, Pryor, and Owen.

It's hard to know whether it would have been more insane to refuse the deal, since we don't know where the Republicans in that deal really stood. Would they really have agreed to go along with the "nuclear option" if the Democrats had refused the deal? And if that happened, would the imperial Republicans have gone on to be even more insane than they have already been? They don't appear to recognize any limits, so you have to ask yourself if you're really, really sure they'd draw the line at, oh, making lampshades out of people.

But then, what's to stop them anyway? When do the Democrats get to draw the line, and if they do, what makes us so sure the Republicans would decide the situation was "extraordinary" enough that they'd accept it?

Exactly. This is one "piece of paper," to borrow a term from Preznit Wit, that's truly "worthless."


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