Wednesday, May 25, 2005
The Senate has seemingly been invigorated by peace, accord and goodwill according to 14 "moderate" Senators who struck a deal concerning President Bush's nominees for the federal appellate courts. However, for a deal that was supposed to restore harmony to the world's greatest deliberative body there are many unhappy interested parties from both sides of the political aisle. Liberals are furious that President Bush was able to garner up-and-down votes for Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Conservatives are equally mad that the agreement means that the nominations of William Myers and Henry Saad will be scuttled. What does this mean for the President's Supreme Court picks, the Senate leadership and various White House aspirations for 2008?
Senator McCain has once again raised the ire of conservatives from his own party. Talk radio hosts, led by Rush Limbaugh and pressure group leaders like James Dobson have taken Sen. McCain to task for "selling out" President Bush's nominees and spiking the so-called "constitutional (or nuclear) option." McCain has never been trusted by conservatives and is a media darling. Pressure groups might threaten to withhold support for McCain in 2008 but they do not yet have a captivating and obvious conservative choice similar to a certain Texas governor they coalesced around in 1999-2000. It is clear that McCain does not worry about vitriol from the right and wanted to see if he could get something done with Democrats.
Unlike her lesser-known Democratic colleagues, Hillary has stayed out of the filibuster fray. Clinton is very expedient when it comes to choosing her political battles. Even though liberal interest groups were incensed by the prospect of conservatives (and conservative women at that) were being nominated for federal benches, Clinton never led the charge to take down the nominees. Clearly, her deafening silence has been motivated by a future run for the presidency. Hillary does not her short tenure in the Senate to become a legacy marked by obstruction and stubbornness. Clinton has gone out of her way to show that she's not a polarizing figure but one who yearns to achieve comity in the Senate and be a team player. That is why she voted for the "Filibuster Compromise." See, Senate Roll Call Vote.
DEMOCRATIC SENATORS VOTING YES
Senators of interest who joined Hillary in voting for the filibuster agreement include, Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; Bingaman, N.M.;Conrad, N.D.; Harkin, Iowa; Johnson, S.D.; Landrieu, La.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Reid, Nev.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.
26 Democratic senators voted yes, and the 13 above are all from states that voted to re-elect President Bush. Surely, they remember what happened to Tom Daschle and want to make sure they are not going to be labeled as far-left wing senators who would go to any lengths to interfere with the President's agenda.
DEMOCRATIC SENATORS VOTING NO
17 Democratic senators voted against the agreement and they were outvoted by their fellow party members. Out of those senators only 2 come from states that voted for Bush in 2004. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas were both re-elected in 2004 so they are probably banking on the fact that voters will forget about this so-called "fight" by the time the 2010 election comes around.
REPUBLICAN SENATORS VOTING YES
All 55 Republican senators voted to end debate on Priscilla Owen, therefore ratifying the deal struck by McCain and the other senators. For all the huffing and puffing by hard-line conservatives there were no Republican senators who were so distressed by the deal that they voted against or urged that it fail in order to make way for a more hard-line stance.
While he did not get every judge that he nominated, he surely looked pleased to reiterate his support for Priscilla Owen at Wednesday's photo-op at the White House. The Bush administration must be pleased that it was able to secure votes for its most visible nominees, Owen and Brown. The White House knows that its real fight will come ahead when there are vacancies on the Supreme Court.
The tempest concerning filibusters for appellate nominees will seem like a tea party when President Bush has to consider who to appoint to the Supreme Court. The smiles generated by this week's "Filibuster Compromise" will be a distant memory. While Democrats will acquiesce on John Bolton they will not lay down for President Bush and Republicans in Congress. The Democrats knocked the Republican agenda off-track by clinging to the filibuster ideal but backed off when they started to look like they were being difficult for partisan reasons.
When the Bush administration settles on a Supreme Court nominee, the Democrats will be ready to use the filibuster once again. Forget about the Democrats promise to only filibuster in the future when there are "extraordinary circumstances." For Democrats, any Republican nominee to the Supreme Court is an extraordinary circumstance. The Democrats will raise the scepter of the filibuster knowing full well that Republicans will appear to be over-reaching if they ram a Supreme Court nominee through the Senate via a "nuclear option."
Update: Others weighing in, GOP Bloggers, Blogs for Bush, Captains Quarters, Outside the Beltway, PowerLine, PoliPundit, BitsBlog, Secure Liberty, Speed of Thought, Buzz Blog, Hedgehog Report, Sundries Shack, Jokers, Lime Shurbert, Generation Why, ,