Stupidity averted

Stupidity averted

: So the filibuster meltdown option is avoided. And a good thing it is. I don’t think the peopel would have tolerated political war and a congressional shutdown. Powerline is despondent; Hugh Hewitt is wondering whether to be depressed but the gray mood is bipartisan: Avedon at Atrios doesn’t like it. Kos calls it limited victory. I call avoiding stupidity victory, myself. I call moderation virtue.

  • JBD

    Absolutely Jeff, right on. Moderation won out here, and it’s a major victory.

  • Jim S

    What moderation? The agreement states that the worst of the nominees get through. Then if Bush nominates someone just as bad if not worse than them to the Supreme Court the entire thing will start over again.

  • vnjagvet

    When neither side’s most zealous advocates are satisfied with a deal it is generally a good one. No one left anything on the table. That comes from 10 years experience as a neutral mediator of significant commercial and construction disputes.
    Having said that, three excellent and fair jurists, Owen, Rogers Brown and Pryor will now be confirmed. All or any will now be legitimate candidates for any Supreme Court vacancies who will practically speaking invulnerable to filibusters or other such “stupid Senate tricks”.

  • rick_d

    Something that’s astonished me throughout this episode is the seemingly lost notion that the Dems will eventually again be the party in power. At that time, the Reps might rather like having the filibuster at hand. In the meantime do they think they’ll be able to pack the judiciary with like-minded judges (not them danged activist judges, nosir) like JPII packed the College of Cardinals?
    Somewhere, methinks Jimmy Stewart is smiling.

  • Jim S

    vnjagvet, if you think that well of them it’s obvious which side of the fence you are because none of them are that darned good. Not by a long shot.

  • Linda Edwards

    “All or any will now be legitimate candidates for any Supreme Court vacancies who will practically speaking invulnerable to filibusters or other such “stupid Senate tricks”.”
    Does this mean, then, that when there’s the next Democratic President, that the GOP won’t kill 63 judicial nominees in committee like they did with Clinton?

  • Anytime partisans on the left and right are upset about a deal, I figure it’s got to be a pretty good one. Conservatives, I think, lose in the short term. But the liberals lose in the long-run, assuming the Centrist Dems hold up their end of the deal. But for right now, moderates and all Americans of good sense win.

  • I feel comfortable with the outcome tonight. There are simply more moderates in both parties and it’s about time they flexed their muscle.

  • dries

    i promise to contribute $1000 to whoever attempts to unseat either maccain or frist. don’t care about if they’re dems or reps. i’d rather deal with committed opponent in front of me than with a dubious “supporter” behind my back.

  • vnjagvet

    Jim S:
    We’ll see.

  • Jim S

    vnjagvet, consider that in the state of Texas lawyers don’t tend to be all that liberal. Some are but certainly not anything approaching the majority. Then consider that in a recent poll of attorneys there that Priscilla Owen was considered very good by 39% and poor by 43% of the 1200 attorneys polled on opinions of judges in the state. That was the worst result of any of the state supreme court justices. Are you seriously telling me Bush couldn’t find a better conservative jurist than that? As opposed to far enough to the right to please the fringe that rules God’s Own Party right now?

  • I am furious that our Leader does not get the up or down vote of the nominees that He chooses.
    This is yet another example of International Liberals and journalists hijacking our nation. The will of the American People has been supressed for far to long…
    Fight the filibuster!
    For the last time the call will now be blown;
    For the struggle now we all stand ready.
    For Homeland!

  • The only scenario better than total Congressional gridlock is a compromise that pisses everyone off (including ARV18).
    God bless America…

  • Unfortunately, the compromise allows really poor quality judges into positions from which they can only be removed by impeachment. Recall, these were the only ones that couldn’t be stomached by a really acquiescent Democratic party that could put up with the other 200+ nominated.
    A truly amusing sidelight was terminology: what began as ‘nuclear’ went to ‘constitutional’ and then ‘Byrd’s’ option. And it still wouldn’t fly.
    To see who’s really put out check out Patterico’s Pontifications!

  • Ruth, I must congratulate you for the best pun I’ve seen all week.
    To the rest of you, I wish you would understand that the real moderates in the Senate are those who draw the line at usury, blackmail, bribery, and corruption. They weren’t among those who brokered that deal, and they aren’t in the Republican Party.

  • It’s not really moderation that carried the day so much as collegiality. The members of the Senate pride themselves on maintaining a good working relationship, even in times of great partisan strife and acrimony. When pundits on both sides of the red/blue divide are howling for the other’s blood–the one calling the other traitors and the others being tarred as fascists–it’s refreshing to see one of America’s most venerable institutions not surrender to the madness.

  • avedon: aw, shucks. Thanks. But give some glory to the creating minds in the Senate.

  • syn

    Why couldn’t the Dems just vote in the first place. Absolute abuse of power by a few suspect Senators.

  • Cal

    I’m just happy it’s over. I’m mostly conservative, but the idea of giving away a power to check the government is nutso. I might even use that term “wingnut” in this issue!

  • EverKarl

    What a victory! Instead of judges being confirmed by 50 Senators, or held up by 40, they can be confirmed or held up by 12, in a deal voted upon by 12! Apparently, it is now considered moderate to ignore the standing rules and precedents of the Senate and resolve the issue in a backroom somewhere. I call for the ultimate moderate proposal: install John McCain as Emperor.

  • Mike

    Everkarl brings up a great point. Why is this considered such a great thing when the dealings of 14 can direct the dealings of 100? How is that moderation or virtue?
    I don’t think the peopel would have tolerated political war and a congressional shutdown.
    I doubt most people would have noticed a congressional shutdown. And those that would have noticed were ready for a political war, probably most were looking forward to it.

  • BladeDoc

    I don’t understand something about this whole issue. The people (TM) voted in a republican president, a republican house, and a republican senate. Why does it seem unreasonable to assume that they want conservative judges? Wasn’t that a big issue in the election? “Don’t vote for Bush! He’ll put in (horrible, rotten, evil, etc, etc, etc.) conservative judges!” Well, we did in spite of — or maybe because of this (look at the votes on gay marriage in EVERY state it was on the ballot). If this was really a democracy we would get the judges the majority party picks. Why SHOULD 12 people decide this issue when it seems fairly clear that the people, for good or ill (as a social liberal, fiscal conservative I don’t have a party) have spoken. It’s not like he lied about who he was going to pick, IIRC most of them were already up for conformation before the election.

  • George W. Bush is our Leader, given to Us by God, protecting America and sustaining our lives for a long time. The parasitic international liberals and McCain have no Leadership Principle. These traitors should really be placed in some form of protective custody in order to keep our Homeland secure.
    Now these same unreliable societal elements are trying to destroy unborn children against our President’s will. This stem cell nonsense must be stopped. I think that there should be a tax break for the women who provide a Fountain of Life for at least 4 of these unborn children.
    We must secure the existence of our People and a future for American children.

  • Jim S

    It’s not the 14 making the difference. It’s the 14 combined with the fact that the people did NOT give God’s Own Party a large enough majority to overcome the filibuster. This ISN’T a democracy. It’s a Republic in which a Constitution places limits on the will of the majority on purpose.

  • HT

    JimS: while I disagree with you on the quality of the judges that will be confirmed, I agree with you about the checks and balances that prevent the majority from “running the table” on any issue where they can muster 50% + 1 of the votes. 14 Senators in the middle on any issue can pretty much dictate the nature of the compromise outcome, barring a landslide on one side or the other. That’s the way the system was designed to work.

  • Jim S and HT:
    Yep, the Senate is not democratic. Each state has two senators, whether it is NY or Idaho, these senators do not represent the same number of people. The senate as an institution is not dominated by any popular majority, it is geographical distribution of power.
    If the majority rules, then why did the minority, which put in this administration in 2000, receive dominant powers during the previous term?

  • BladeDoc

    In regards to all the “that’s the way the constitutional checks and balances are supposed to work thing” — all untrue. Filibusters are nowhere in the constitution. The senate created those rules (constitutionally) but equally constitutionally they could say that the majority leader gets the only vote or that it takes a 99 to one majority to “consent” on a judge. The filibuster is a technique created by one branch of the government to increase the power of that branch (specifically the minority party of that branch). It is not part of the “checks and balances” created by the founding fathers. Is it good or bad– another discussion. But all those “that’s the way the system is designed to work comments– not so much.

  • HT

    BladeDoc. I do not know if you were specifically replying to my use of the term “checks and balances”, but in fact I did not use the word “constitutional”. I am referring to the system as it is presently constituted (no pun intended), which includes the rules under which the Senate operates, of which I approve.
    Now, JimS did refer specifically to the Constitution, but then again, so do the conservative activists who are now claiming the “right to an up or down vote” is somehow included the original text (which it is not). And in this case, JimS is actually more correct, because from a strictly technical perspective, the Constitution refers Federal judicial appointments to the Senate, to deal with as it sees fit under its rules of organization, but is silent on what those rules might be. That is why the conservatives are within their rights to demand that the rules be changed, but wrong to claim a constitutional justification for doing so.

  • EverKarl

    Of course, it’s the 14. They are setting the rules for confirmation votes. That’s what the “memorandum of understanding is.” The 14 are not simply thwarting the GOP. They are also approving judges the Democrats have labeled as extremists, thwarting filibusters in at least three (and maybe many more) cases.
    I note in passing that the Constitution says nothing about filibusters and that the Senate originally operated without them without destroying the Republic. I wonder how many of those worshiping at the shrine of the filibuster would like to thrall us with their defense of Sen. Byrd’s filibuster of civil rights legislation. Indeed, I would love to see someone list out historical examples of filibusters that benefitted the Republic prior to the current controversy over judicial filibusters. The fact is that most peoples’ opinions about the filibuster are simply a smokescreen for their opinion on the substance of the issue being filibustered. The gang of 14 are a bunch who are united on the procedural issue precisely because they do not want to have to take a position on the underlying merits of various issues, of which judicial nominations are just one.
    The Senate could have scheduled votes on each of the nominees. Senators could have responded by trying to filibuster and maybe succeeded in some cases, though I doubt it had the GOP required actual, rather than threatened filibusters. But that would be icky partisan battle, otherwise known as politics. Much better that a small clique meet in a backroom on the Hill and announce new rules for confirmations. All that was missing was the white puff of smoke coming out of chimney somewhere.

  • Linda Edwards

    I don’t understand why the right keeps bringing up Sen Byrd’s filibuster. In 1964, the Democrats were in the majority, the bill’s manager was the majority Whip, Democrat Hubert Humphrey. The Senate, with the help of the minority Republicans, managed to get enough votes (67 at the time) to cut-off the filibuster, the civil rights act passed a few days later, and they did it WITHOUT changing the rules.

  • we wuz raped
    to post comments, please also go to
    it’s only been a little more than 24 hours since the compromise deal was announced on averting a showdown on the filibuster.  it seems like so much longer than that already.  extreme trauma tends to affect one’s sense of the passage of time.  but make no mistake, we wuz raped.
    most of the progressive political spin i’ve heard since then sounds like it was written by barney the dinosaur.  no, the democrats did not win.  they gave away the farm, starting with the farmer’s daughter.  there isn’t enough lipstick in the world to pretty up this pig of a deal.
    the seeds of this titanic disaster came from senator reid, when he first started to talk about compromise on three of the worst judicial nominees ever, some already filibustered multiple times on principle.  and when that offer was made, senator frist cried hypocrite.  if these judges were truly so bad, why are you offering to compromise, in essence challenging “don’t you have any principles?”  and he was absolutely right on that one.
    that’s the message that the american people will take away from this, that the republicans will fight on principle and the democrats will not, not ever.  that’s all the american people heard.  one can say that a small group of maverick senators were to blame, but they were endorsed and encouraged in this by reid, as he abdicated his leadership by encouraging them to “bridge the differences”.  by contrast, frist who did not emerges as a hero unscathed.  nobody on the right is condemning him.
    what is the basic mental defect in those who would claim any victory on the progressive side?  i’m looking at the scoreboard and it sure looks like 3-0 to me.  absolutely nothing of substance was given away by the other side.  listen to the words of mike dewine, one of the gang of 14, even in announcing the deal:
    “. . . but if an individual senator believes in the future that a filibuster is taking place under something that’s not extraordinary circ*mstances we reserve the right to do what we could have done tomorrow which is to cast a yes vote for the constitutional option”
    in order words, for anyone with the political wits of a five-year-old child the democrats have gained nothing for waving through three of the worst of the worst.  no promise was given of rejecting any nominees whatsoever.  the democrats have unilaterally cowed themselves out of the last shred of power they had.  they kept their powder so dry it all blew away.
    “we saved the filibuster,” you hear some say.  that’s like bragging you’ve saved your virginity while you’re taking it up the rear end just because they did violate you there as well . . . yet.
    there will be no filibusters in this session of congress.  none.  not on bolton and not on the supreme court.  none.  if these were not extraordinary circ*mstances then the goal posts have been moved so far to the right it’s a standard that even heinrich himmler would not offend.  if the democrats even so much as think about a filibuster the nuclear trigger is right back on the table.  in fact it never left the table.
    they were going to show “mr. smith goes to washington” all that night in the capitol.  but the whole point of that movie had nothing to do with the filibuster as an arcane procedural device.  what it was about was political courage in the face of overwhelmingly adverse odds.  when you shy away from a fight because of the possibility of losing that is the very definition of cowardice.  you don’t build a base by surrendering.  you build a base by taking a stand and sticking to it, which is the fundamental reason why the republicans are where they are today.
    when exactly does no mean no?  the democrats are the boy who cried rape and then invited his attackers over for a naked tea party.  the american people may never believe them again.  for there is one thing that the american people will never vote for, and that’s a coward, whatever their political stripe.  and of course, there’s only one color of stripe that cowards come in and that’s yellow.
    according to the polls, two thirds of the american people would have backed up the democrats on principle regardless of the head count in the senate.  how many elections do you think you could win with 2/3 of the american people?  if the democrats had only stood firm and united one of two things would have happened.  1) either enough republican senators would have come to their senses for the so-called “nuclear option” to have been discredited forever, or else 2) the backlash from the american people would have guaranteed wins on straight up and down votes from now on.  and then neither would the filibuster have been there for the republicans in the future.  either way there would have been an enormous shift of power in favor of the democrats. it was a win-win situation, and somehow they found a way to lose.
    so if you are looking for the real culprits, try your bathroom mirror.  did you speak out to your members of congress on what they should do?  did you email all your friends and encourage them to do so?  if you have a blog, did you have a link posted at all times on every page for people to do something about this?  if you have radio show, did you constantly give out the senate phone number until your listeners had it memorized in their sleep?
    some acted, but the vast majority of us did not.  did you do all you could have done to tell our representatives to stand tall.  or have you been sleepwalking through this political nightmare?
    we wuzn’t just raped.  we wuz gang raped . . . and not by the other side . . . by our own side, by our inaction, by our cowardice, by our lack of mobilization, by our failure of coordination, by most of all by our own defeatism.  how do you put a positive spin on gang rape?  the american people know what happened.  all they want now is for someone to tell them the truth.
    copyright 2005 helenus