Thursday, May 26, 2005

Michael: Filibroken

Boy, I hope those seeing the Senate settlement as a victory turn out to be right, but I fear they are very wide of the mark.

I try not to judge too swiftly the history that is now passing before us, so I waited and let the nuclear option settlement play out and digest a few days before commenting. I, too, was hoping for a settlement of some sort, but I believe now that I didn't think it out. Better that pro-busters had gone to the mat in the court of public opinion to defend the constitution and Senate traditions, Even if we lost in the short-term, we could have won the battle with a resounding victory in public opinion. In fact, it is because the idea was so horribly unpopular that the Right even agreed to negotiate.

I have come to the conclusion that the settlement was servile appeasement. I’m sure that Reid and McCain and others were doing what they thought proper for the country and desperately trying to avoid the constitutional melt-down the nuclear option represents, but they have really done nothing but tossed three judgeships into the maw of absolutism in order that it might be sated for the moment. What have we gotten in return? Nothing. The status quo. The right to fight another day. And fight we shall, because the Right has just been taught that constitutional terrorism works.

Instead of kicking them in the teeth and taking the case to the people in a serious and uncompromising fashion, the Democratic leadership folded and cut a deal on something as important and central as the traditional powers of the Congress. Congressional officers are the only people who can defend the powers of Congress, and they have failed in that primary duty to preserve the prerogatives of their offices. The minority leadership and centrist Republicans are being shoved down the road to slavery, and they are patting their captor on the back and telling everyone what a reasonable guy he is.

The Right’s arguments are total bunk. They make less sense with every telling. The idea that for some reason it is constitutionally incumbent to pass on the President’s judicial nominations by ‘an up or down vote’ is complete hogwash. Are Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls and all other Officers of the United States next on the list of appointees that cannot be filibustered? They are in the very same sentence mandating the Senate’s role to Advise and Consent on judicial nominees. The same sophistry must apply to them. Just wait for a Democratic President and Senate majority to make a few appointments under the new ‘understanding’ of the filibuster which the Right is trying to smuggle into the Senate - we'll see how long thier interpretation stands then.

This settlement is a grievous wound to the body of our democracy and historians will long lament the day. The Right has held democracy hostage, and our political leaders met the terrorists demands because they only cut the hostage's head off little a bit.


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