The Accidental Rout Of The Moderates
A serious commentary by
The Therapist, Resident Columnist
While the Senate democrats’ willing and transparent abrogation of the so-called “filibuster compromise” has the immediate and somewhat uncomfortable tendency to raise the blood pressure, perhaps a little orientation would be in order.
To many in the conservative camp, the seven republican senators’ 11th-hour deal with seven democrats to head off the “nuclear option” was the worst kind of blank check one could ever consider giving to liberals: the democrats get to write the checks, and the republicans get to answer for any and all overdrafts.
Despite the TV-frame focus on circuit court nominations, the democrats knew full well that their real desire to enact a filibuster in a judicial pick would arise in the “extraordinary circumstance” of a Supreme Court pick—and arguably not even with a highly predictable vacancy by Renquist, either. To replace a moderate conservative with another one would not un-temper the court from its consistent 5-4, left leaning galvanizations. The filibuster clause would merely be an ace in the hole, only employed when a combination of weak public memories and a reasonable period of time have alloyed somewhere down the road.
Yet the democrats may have painted themselves into an even worse corner by virtue of the compromise than the republicans were perceived to have done to themselves, and all with the unwitting aid of seven milquetoasters* in the republican camp. The very scenario carries with it all the potential synaptic charm of watching Gary Kasparov having to publicly assimilate a four-move checkmate dealt him by a fourth-grader reading Chess For Dummies.
The reason being is the democrats’ tendency to be willing to adopt new, custom-fit doctrines to suit the moment. Nothing illustrated this better than Nancy Pelosi’s recent attempt to sand bag against her own ignorance of the Kelo decision particulars by equating all Supreme Court decisions to the voice of God. When getting that private property out of the hands of the individual, not even the amalgamation of church and state is crossing the line, to a liberal.
So here comes the senate compromise; originally intended to mean, “republicans agree to not change senate rules, and democrats still get to filibuster—later,” the blindsiding resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor handed president Bush the perfect tool with which to make senate democratic life a living hell. As the goal is to nominate, and confirm her replacement before the court reconvenes in a few short months, the stark hypocrisy on the part of democrats will become apparent to even the worst of memories. A filibuster is all but guaranteed, and the fact that it has never been employed in the entire history of our Supreme Court process is just to hard a fact for even Katie Couric to ignore while doing her job—especially when that job has to be done on live television.
Had the compromise never been forged by what can only be viewed as an erstwhile political tapeworm in the belly of democracy, there would be no backdrop by which to show such stark regression in character—because an O’Connor vacancy was going to have an out-of-power democratic party doing everything it can to stop a bush pick—and a filibuster within a “non-compromise” context would allow the democrats to actually define “extraordinary circumstances” instead of having to assume the defensive posture of redefining it out of “any Supreme Court vacancy.” The term is now the fodder of late-night comedians, rather than the titanium scalpel it would have been, had fourteen nitwits not drafted that ridiculous little armistice in the first place.
So while it may feel like the issue’s momentum lies with the democrats, they are in reality, cursing their own for the compromise now, because of the actual issues it will bring into relief.
The only question is, will those seven republicans feel the pressure to do something about a scenario which illustrates the same kind of beaten-wife respect they’ve accepted in times past from the democrats? Or will they merely scream at the cops for showing up to deal with the scoundrels?
If there is any real cause to worry, it is where our seven politically androgynous senators will be standing when the times comes for a senate referendum on their own worthless currency—which may be indexed to an accidental gold standard after all.
*Originally spelled "Milk-Toasters" until Basil sent me a whimsically-funny missive letting me know I was running with my colloquial wheel in the sand. If you haven't been to his blog yet, you're missing out.