Monday, May 23, 2005

Nuking the Constitution

Well, it looks like Frist is really going to go forward with the Nuking the Constitution option. Essentially he's about to push through a radical, activist interpretation of a clause in the Constitution that pretty clearly does not say what the GOP is pretending it obviously says.

This is so far out of step with what Republicans claim their values are that it really will be a watershed in politics. Anyone who goes along with this is basically not worth talking to, not worth arguing with. Republicans who support this measure are declaring their devotion to increasing their own power at all costs, with no regard to fairness, democratic principles, or basic ethics.

Both sides appear to be All-In. Let's turn over the cards and see what everybody has.


RBP said...

Whew! That was close.

Watching the bi-partisan press conference today, I could almost see Lindsey Graham mouth the words "exploratory committee." Frist is casting his lot with the hard right. I find this surprising. Just today Bush is posting some of the lowest poll numbers of his presidency.

I think Frist is planning on triangulating the moderates. Let McCain, Graham, no doubt Guilliani, fight it out for the GOP middle. Frist will ride the hard right to nomination.

This is the only thing I can come up with to explain his speech on the floor after the compromise was announced.

Of course the spin machine is spinning even now, so we'll have to see how the rest of the week shakes out.

uncle said...

Is it just me or did this come of as merely high theater. I'm dubious this had much to do with judges at all, and was some internal hissy fit between the leadership and the members. ALL the members use the filibuster, and the threat thereof, to influence legislation. And you don't even have to filibuster the actual legislation. Deals can be cut across the agenda. Lott was fond of saying that in the senate, everything was connected. Maybe age has gotten me cynical, but all I really saw was alot of folks maneuvering to protect their own pork.

Adam P. Short said...

It was theater, but it wasn't about pork, not primarily. Frist wants the power to put a right-wing hero on the high court when Rehnquist retires.

The GOP moderates (led by McCain) don't want that, so they're upping the ante for Frist. Now if he wants to have that fight, he has to have it in the runup to the 2006 midterms.

In Senate politics, shit rolls downhill towards the folks who have elections coming up. Thus leading to the 2004 elections, Frist had the upper hand because his own seat wasn't up. Now McCain, who doesn't face voters again until 2010 (and he may retire before then) is in a much stronger position.

On the Dem side, the compromise is about control. Right now, since there is still some semblance of cooperation between the GOP and right-leaning Dems (the bankruptcy bill is a good example) the Dem moderates are still in control of the party's strategy.

If the tenor of Senate proceedings switches to outright hostility, the Dean-aligned backbenchers will have a chance to gain the upper hand, since all their rhetoric, speechmaking and political maneuverings are geared toward confrontation with Republicans rather than cooperation.

But the Dem moderates have made a bit of a gamble. They are betting that Frist won't bring up Starr (or someone equally odious) in 2006. If the Senate implodes in 2006, the moderate Dems will be forced to choose between joining the fighting wing of the party against the wishes of their financial support base or heading into their primaries (speaking primarily about Lieberman now) as GOP-aligned Democrat trying to fend off tough challenges from more liberal opponents in liberal states.