May 23, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
Statement of Democratic Leader Harry Reid There is good news for every American in this agreement. The so-called ³nuclear option² is off the table. This is a significant victory for our country, for democracy, and for all Americans. Checks and balances in our government have been preserved.Look, I know you might think "we" didn't get enough from this, but it is a huge loss for the Religious Right. HUGE. And it means you and me can worry a bit less about the Right forcing us to pray (their way) and things like that.
The integrity of future Supreme Courts has been protected from the undueinfluences of a vocal, radical faction of the right that is completely out of step with mainstream America. That was the intent of the Republican ³nuclear option² from the beginning. Tonight, the Senate has worked its will on behalf of reason, responsibility and the greater good.
We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message: Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our founding fathers¹ vision, and one we hold dear.
I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside there differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy and the
Supreme Court make-up cannot be decided by a simple majority.
I am grateful to my colleagues who brokered this deal. Now, we can move beyond this time-consuming process that has deteriorated the comity of this great institution. I am hopeful that we can quickly turn to work on the people¹s business. We need to ensure our troops have the resources they need to fight in Iraq and that Americans are free from terrorism. We need to protect retiree¹s pensions and long-term security. We need to expand health care opportunities for all families. We need to address rising gasoline prices and energy independence. And we need to restore fiscal responsibility and rebuild our economy so that it lifts all American workers. That is our reform agenda, the people¹s reform agenda. Together, we can get the job done.
The country just dodged a bullet.
Update - Crooks and Liars documents how unhappy the Right is about this.
Update II - My feeling is that this presents an opportunity to parade Judge Owen's record in front of a public that will nowbe paying more attention. Her record makes the Repubicans look really, really bad. I'm still on my way home from a late business meeting and will try to post more on this tomorrow. Until then, see TalkLeft, Body and Soul and a Kos post for some of her record.
Update III - Home at last (10:30pm...) Scanning comments earlier and now, and listening to the radio talk shows while I drove, I think there is something that people are missing. I think the Republican "nuclear option" is gone now -- off the table. After this it doesn't have the credibility to re-enter the picture and they can't try this again. What would be the point, knowing there are enough senators willing to find a way not to do it? It was a months-long buildup and in the end it failed. For the far-right it was never about these judges. It was about getting rid of the last check and balance in our system so they could get even more of their judges and Supreme Court nominees in place, and then getting rid of the filibuster altogeher (find me an argument they used here that doesn't apply to the filibuster generally), and they failed. Any individual Senator can still filibuster any judicial nomination.
Steve Soto says The Center Finally Held,
"Not only did they [Senate moderates] emerge, but the elder statesmen from both parties (Warner and Byrd) stepped in and took the car keys away from Frist and to a degree, from Cheney.
[. . .] The moderate center finally got tired tonight of what they were being force-fed from the White House and the American Taliban, and took back control.
[. . .] the vast majority of the public only really cares about judges when a Supreme Court nomination is pending that will change the ideological balance on the court. Reid preserved the beachhead on that tonight."
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The country didn't dodge a bullet Reid and the D's sold it out.
Posted by: Ken at May 23, 2005 6:44 PM
I'm going to wait a few days. It looks like a goal-line stand and a field goal. Lieberman and the rest of the "moderate Dems" were able to take control of the agenda. The little shit was strutting around.
The whinig from the Republicans shouldn't be taken too seriously, because the Republican militants are mentally ill clowns who don't know what's happening. The smart Republicans go ballistic even when they know they've won, just for intimidation purposes and to keep their psycho miltants pumped.
I assume that Reid thought that he couldn't get 6 Republicans to vote against the nuclear option, and that this was really the best we could get.
Frist and Bush lost something, but they're apparently getting Owen and Brown (unless there was a side deal for 6 moderate Republicans to vote against them on the floor).
Just as with the Social Security issue, there's only so much satisfaction you can take from just barely staying alive.
Posted by: John Emerson at May 23, 2005 7:29 PM
I heard a different story from Mary Ratcliff over at American Street. Explain to me how this isn't appeasement of historic proportions. Explain to me how Senate Democrats haven't surrendered all. Owens, Brown, and the whole demented crew to follow, are going to sail through on 51 votes.
Tell me how this is anything but a sellout. This only means that our Senate Democrats will not fight for us. They will ponificate; they will raise their voices with passion; they will pose. They will however not stop Senate business or actually fight the Radical Republicans.
It's not just that we are as bad off as we were, before this whole "nuclear option" nonesense started; we have suffered a defeat, a catastrophic defeat. Won't the Republicans betray this agreement when it comes to a Supreme Court nomination.
The Democratic Senate has tried appeasement. But the Republicans will have further demands. This is not a compromise, but rather a surrender, and one that reveals a terrible weakness. Please tell me this is a bad dream, Please say is isn't so.
Posted by: Copeland at May 23, 2005 7:55 PM
Essentially, nothing has changed, except that Brown, Pryor and Owen move another step closer to becoming powerful, anti-democrat judges.
This is good?
Posted by: badgervan at May 23, 2005 7:55 PM
Dems should have fought tooth and nail. I don't care what kind of perfume you all try to put on this, it stinks.
Posted by: Nancy at May 23, 2005 9:18 PM
Yes, the alternative was the end of Representative government in the United States. I mean this for real. It was a test of the power of Dobson and the rest of that crowd AND THEY LOST. It would have meant the complete merging of The Party and the state. These people are not fooling around and it would have meant some very bad things beginning to happen here.
This failure to kill the filibuster might mean the defeat of the Religious right and the splintering of The Party. If not, it at least means we have a little more time. In my opinion this was that serious.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at May 23, 2005 10:00 PM
OK Dave. I want to know the details of what kind of deal was struck. It will take a day or two to find out everything about it. There has been no evidence I have seen to date, to suggest that Frist and his bunch will be deflected from fundamentalist influence and its extremist objectives.
"The end of Representative Government" (as we have known it) may have been postponed but a little while. We're not really dealing with gentlemen here. And what Senator Reid describes as "the deterioration of the comity of this great institution" is likely to have only been put on hold for a little while.
If the Brown and Owens nominations have been disallowed, I suppose a small part of Reid's grandiloquence might be justified. But if this does turn out to be appeasement, it will be much more than a temporary setback, and will be deeply demoralizing to many Democrats and other concerned Americans.
Posted by: Copeland at May 23, 2005 10:59 PM
Both sides blinked... to one degree or another. But, in the current situation, which side wins when there is a draw? Clearly the Republicans -- this is their strategy: push the limits, change the framework of the dialogue to include extreme positions, draw back, push the limits again at a later point, so that the former extremes are now solidly mainstream.
What did the Democrats get out of this?
Unambiguously: the elimination of two judges that even a number of Republicans allegedly were unwilling to support. ... and a promise that the Republicans wouldn't shoot them dead in the street by triggering the "nuclear option". At least not for the moment, as long as they don't provide Frist et. al with an excuse to do so.
What do the Republicans get? An up or down vote on three extremist judges - and a pledge from the Democrats that they won't filibuster any judges of a similar stripe. If Brown, Pryor and Owens don't justify a filibuster on the Democrat's part... who does? Who needs a "nuclear option", under those circumstances?
I think you're missing the boat on this, Dave. The Republicans' goal wasn't to kill the filibuster... it was to move the center. Think about it: the "moderate" Senators, Democrats and Republican alike, have now officially declared that Brown, Pryor and Owens are within the political/judicial mainstream. They've made it practically impossible for the Democrats to filibuster any Bush nominee for any court from this point forward.
My prediction: the Democrats won't use the filibuster to block a Bush nomination ever again... even to the Supreme Court. Seriously: if they agree that Brown, Pryor and Owens aren't filibusterable for the appeals court, how do they rationalize blocking someone of a similar stripe when nominated for the Supreme Court?
If they do feel driven to do this, the Republicans will put the nuclear option right back on the table, claiming the truce has been violated.
At best, the day of reckoning has been delayed... at the cost of conceding a huge amount of ground. This is a "win"? I don't think so.
Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at May 24, 2005 1:20 AM
Nope, I can't celebrate this one. The severe threat of fundamentalist-themed fascism is still with us. This deal was like taking some ipuprofin when you have a fever--it knocks down the fever for a while, but doesn't really go after the infection.
True, the corporatist wing is trying to rein in their bible-thumping brown shirt base--but that base is now madder than a swarm of hornets and far from finished. Keep in mind that this stage was also reached by the industrialists (and aristocrats) who supported the upstart Fascists and Nazis in Europe in the 20's and early 30's. As you might recall, they weren't able to put on the brakes in time.
So the corporatists are still in command. Indeed, they now have virtual carte blanche to pack the courts with economic extremists (i.e. corrupt crony judges like Owen), which is fine by them and a continuing disaster for us.
I'll accept this as a successful holding action, but it ain't no victory.
Posted by: mondo dentro at May 24, 2005 2:34 AM
The Corporate Conservatives Win. From Liberal Oasis.
I think they've got it about right.
Posted by: mondo dentro at May 24, 2005 2:39 AM
I don't see how this was a sellout, or betrayal, unless it can be proven to me that Reid et al went along with it. I mean I never considered the dems who came out to announce the deal (other than Byrd)as being anything other than GOP light members. They stabbed us in the gut...but not in the back. I must admit.
Posted by: jon st at May 24, 2005 7:38 AM
I'm not celebrating either. The "nuclear option" will be back whenever Frist & co. see a need for it. FWIW, I wish they had gone ahead and had the showdown, then we dems would know exactly where we stand with the rethugs. Now it's back to watch & wait.
Posted by: darms at May 24, 2005 7:43 AM
...I've already written pretty much all I care to about this last night, but I agree with you, Mr. Johnson...
...doesn't seem to be a majority opinion in blogtopia, though...
Posted by: Jack K. at May 24, 2005 8:17 AM
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