Monday, May 23, 2005

Crisis averted

I was putting the finishing touches on a lengthy post about how dangerous the nuclear option would be for the future of our republic when I got the news tonight: The nuclear option is dead.

I've never been happier to discard a post.

Under the compromise reached by 14 U.S. senators -- seven Democrats and seven Republicans -- the Democratic seven will allow confirmation votes on three of President Bush's appellate court nominees: Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor. In return, the GOP seven agreed not to vote for the nuclear option, which flagrantly would have broken Senate rules and precedents by allowing a simple majority to change the rule allowing filibusters for judicial nominees instead of the 2/3 majority required for a rules change.

The deal has left partisans on both sides dissatisfied, which is the mark of any good compromise. More importantly, it prevents an atmosphere in which politicians break or ignore long-standing rules and precedents whenever they stand in the way of a little temporary gain for the majority.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., looks like the political loser in this battle, as his potential 2008 presidential run took a major hit tonight. Frist's failure to force a vote to ban judicial filibusters will cost him among leaders of the religious right, who strongly pushed for the nuclear option and upon whom he hopes to rely as a support base.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a leading 2008 GOP presidential contender who was the spokesman for the group of compromisers, emerges from this dispute looking like a strong, rational leader and a force for moderation. The two-thirds of Americans who opposed the nuclear option will remember that he was the voice of reason when it counted.

Political machinations aside, this controversy wasn't about Democrats against Republicans; it was about ensuring that we still live in a country ruled by laws, not by men. Tonight, the rule of law won. As Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor shortly after the deal was announced, "This is a victory for the American people."


Blogger Carla Jean said...

I'm going to completely ignore your post and instead demand to know why you have not IMed me yet. I thought we were gonna hang out this summer?

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that, sir, is pressing business.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Crisis averted.

11:15 PM  

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