Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The rational option: detente

A few U.S. senators are trying once more to defuse the impending showdown over the nuclear option.

A bipartisan group is working on a deal that would allow confirmation votes for five of President Bush's judicial nominees while upholding Democrats' right to filibuster three others. The compromise would be imminently reasonable, and it would protect the filibuster as a way to block a bare majority from running roughshod over the minority. The stumbling block, though, is that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is imminently unreasonable and unwilling to compromise at all.

Frist also has a short memory. In a statement Monday, he said, "Republicans believe in the regular order of fair up or down votes and letting the Senate decide yes or no on judicial confirmations free from procedural gimmicks like the filibuster." Conveniently, Frist forgets that just a few years ago, Senate Republicans used "procedural gimmicks" to block more than 60 of President Clinton's judicial nominees from receiving "up or down votes."

Everyday Americans would call it hypocrisy at its finest. In Washington, they call it business as usual.

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