May 24, 2005

You Can Always Count on that Great Deliberative Body, the U.S. Senate...

Marc Comtois come up with a politically expedient and intellectually dishonest solution to a problem. That is what the "filibuster deal" is. The moderates, including our own Sen. Chafee, prized comity over Constitutional consistency. Senator John Cornyn explains it well.

Conservatives have good reason to be unhappy with the agreement announced last night concerning the Senate’s judicial-confirmation process. The agreement does not guarantee up-or-down votes on all of President Bush’s judicial nominees, nor does it restore the Senate’s unswerving 214-year tradition of majority vote for all judicial nominees. In addition, the agreement attempts to rewrite Article II of the Constitution, by giving the Senate an advise-and-consent role in the nomination, as well as the appointment, of judges. Those objectives are still within reach, however. As one of the signatories to the agreement made clear last night, the agreement does not foreclose the use of the Byrd option in the event that the filibuster continues to be abused. Moreover, conservatives should be proud of the principled manner in which they have conducted this debate.

The other side’s position, by contrast, is an intellectual shambles. The agreement guarantees up-or-down votes to Justice Priscilla Owen, Justice Janice Rogers Brown, and Judge William Pryor — three well-qualified nominees who were once deplored as extreme and dangerous (as late as yesterday afternoon). The agreement is thus an effective admission of guilt — an admission that these fine nominees should never have been filibustered in the first place. Moreover, by forbidding future filibusters of judicial nominations except under “extraordinary circumstances,” the agreement establishes a new benchmark for future conduct in the United States Senate — namely, that other qualified judges who are firmly committed to the law, like Owen, Brown, and Pryor, deserve an up-or-down vote, too.

Likewise, for months it was claimed that the filibuster is sacrosanct to the Founders, and that using the Byrd option to restore Senate tradition would be illegal. Yet Senator Robert Byrd reminded the world just last week that our Founders did not tolerate filibusters — that “the rules adopted by the United States Senate in April 1789 included a motion for the previous question,” which “allowed the Senate to terminate debate” by majority vote. And just yesterday, he conceded that “the so-called nuclear option has been around for a long time. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.”

Now, it must be said that some on the left aren't all that happy either, thus ideologues on both left and right are disappointed. To this, Pejman Yousefzadeh makes the point
I understand the desire of Republicans to get rid of the filibuster entirely when it comes to judicial nominees. I share in that desire. But remember that politics is a game of inches. Tip O'Neill once admiringly said of Ronald Reagan that the latter may not get 100% of what he wanted, but that Reagan would always get about 80%. When Reagan heard the compliment, he responded by saying "Yeah. And then next time, I go after the other 20%."

The other 20% is out there for Republicans to get. And if this deal falls apart thanks to bad faith on the other side, we can go out and get it.

Some of us may wonder if the Republican moderates will follow through, though. For those of us in Rhode Island, we have to ask if the 1/4 loaf of Lincoln Chafee is really worth it. Should we move to get rid of the false promise that Chafee most-often offers, knowing full well that a liberal Democrat could, and probably would, replace him? Perhaps. Because then we would be sure where that potential Chafee successor stood. Is it better to "know-thy-enemy" then to wonder what the heck the incumbent is going to do? Actually, as I look back at the previous couple sentences, I realize that we do know what Chafee will do. If there is a "compromise" offered, he will sign on. Sen. Chafee is most firm in his un-conservative ideals (abortion, "traditional" environmentalism, to name a couple) and it is only when he is asked to adhere to even tacitly conservative ideals that he compromises. It is no secret that Sen. Chafee isn't a conservative. He is most definitely the very definition of a RINO (Republican-in-name-only). We have to ask ourselves, is a RINO better than a liberal Democrat? Is there a difference?

NOTE: For good coverage and analysis, check out NRO's Bench Memos blog.

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My email to the missing linc

Senator Chafee,

Watching last nights local news, I was informed that you were the ONLY Republican Senatorto vote against The Honorable Priscilla Owens confirmation to the Court of Appeals. I think I speak for the majority of Rhode Island Republicans when I say I am absolutely fed up with your "maverick" republican act. The contrarian schtick has passed annoying and has entered the realm of ridiculous. If you want to be a Democrat than by god be a Democrat. Change your party affiliation for the upcoming election and run under the banner of the Party of No. In the mean time, it was Republican money and votes that put you in your senate seat and we would like to see a return on our effort and we should expect that you will support the administration at least some of the time. I say should because I know full well that what we can really expect from you is more of the same. I can tell you this. It is my great hope that Steve Laffey or Dave Rogers or Mike Battles or any REAL Republican will throw down and challenge you in the primary and give Rhode Island Republicans a legitimate GOP candidate to support. Should you be the candidate in 2006 you will not get my vote nor the votes of many of my peers. I would pull the lever for the brain dead Patrick Kennedy before I would vote for you because at least Patrick makes no bones about being a liberal democrat. Should Matt Brown be your adversary, I will simply sit out the vote as he would be as abysmal a choice asd yourself. I realize I am pissing against the wind here but wouold it be too mauch to ask that you vote today to support the Presidents nominated candidate for Ambassador to the UN, the eminently qualified if sometimes a meanie Joh Bolton? Just thought I would ask

Michael W Hamilton

Posted by: michael hamilton at May 26, 2005 11:34 AM