They might be given the benefit of a doubt, but it sure looks as though Senate Democrats are close to giving Republicans yet another incremental win, this time on judges and the filibuster.
Democrats have been killing votes on several Bush-nominated judges by using filibusters, a procedural trick long used by whichever party is in the minority (including Republicans during the Clinton years) when they find a nominee offensive. Republicans are proposing a “nuclear option” that would kill the filibuster itself, which they want out of the way before Bush nominates any Supreme Court judges.
And lead Democrat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid is proposing a compromise that would let through some of the judges in exchange for Republicans backing off from the nuclear option.
Let’s see how this works: Republicans present nominees considered unacceptable by the Democrats. Democrats use the filibuster to prevent the nominees from taking office. Republicans threaten to kill the filibuster. Democrats accept some unacceptable nominees if Republicans let them keep the filibuster Democrats use to reject unacceptable nominees.
Yup, that sounds about par for the course for the Democrats lately.
There’s always the tiniest possibility Democrats opposed more judicial nominees than they truly found offensive, just so they’d have room to maneuver later. But that’s an incredibly cynical move that would have proved Republicans right by precipitating a crisis, and there’s fortunately no signs this is the case.
This is politics. Sometimes you take a strategic loss. But if Reid’s compromise goes through, it will stand as yet another depressing example of what happens when you let the other side define the argument.