Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's Official....

....Filibuster war has been declared:

Democrats have splintered almost evenly over Roberts' nomination as chief justice, leading to frustration among party activists who think their elected leaders did not put up a serious fight against him. Pollsters have told party leaders that a show of opposition against Bush's next nominee could be crucial to restoring enthusiasm among the rank and file on the left.

In an interview, Dean said Democratic unity is essential in the upcoming battle and that the party "absolutely" should be prepared to filibuster - holding unlimited debate and preventing an up-or-down vote - Bush's next high court nominee, if he taps someone they find unacceptably ideological. He cited appellate court judges Priscilla R. Owen and Janice Rogers Brown as two who would be likely to trigger such opposition.

"Those people are clearly not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure they don't," he said. "If we lose, better to go down fighting and standing for what we believe in, because we will not win an election if the public doesn't think we'll stand up for what we believe in."

We learn several things from Dr. Demented's comments.

1) Dems confuse ideology with competence;

2) That ideology is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution;

3) They are essentially held hostage by their extremist base;

4) Dean, at the very least, knows that his party will probably lose a filibuster showdown;

5) He still doesn't get that obstructionism in the face of three consecutive national electoral defeats - particularly so public a showdown - will guarantee that the losing streak will continue.

Ironically, the implication, and stakes, are eerily similar for Republicans. Getting a constitutionalist into the O'Connor seat and finally moving the SCOTUS rightward has been the top domestic policy motivator for that aformentioned GOP winning streak. The "memo of understanding" fiasco, topped off by the recent Republican spending sprees, has the GOP base in as big an uproar as its Donk counterpart, and equally demanding of not one scintilla of compromise or "stealth" tactics.

Both sides want a showdown. Both sides want a collision. Both sides want blood.

The question is will the Democrats greater responsiveness (some might say subservience) to their base be enough to offset the Republicans' superior numbers. As well as whether the President selects (1) a constitutionalist and (2) one of John Roberts' brilliance, poise, and overall excellence.

One thing is certain - the aforementioned MOU, like the Versailles Treaty, didn't settle anything in the confirmation wars, as some on the right predicted - though I'm not quite as sure of the conclusion to be drawn from it as Cap'n Ed is:

Now the Seven Republican Dwarves of the Gang of 14 will see the folly in compromising with the Democrats. They now have to make up their minds about whether to support Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court or to protect a filibuster that has been abused by the Democrats to overturn the results of two elections in terms of controlling judicial nominees. They could have resolved this four months ago, with the stakes less than today and with a lower level of media attention. Now they find themselves only a year away from an important election cycle, where the voters will surely remember whether they supported a Supreme Court pick rather than an obscure appellate nomination.

I'm still not convinced that the McCain mutineers will "see the folly" of their deal with the Donk devils. Three of them (Warner, DeWine, and Graham - Chaffee, Snowe, and Collins are RINOs, and John McCain is a law unto himself) signed on out of squeamishness over the nastiness of a filibuster/rule change showdown, the irony of which, then and now, was obvious - deferring the inevitable simply guaranteed greater stakes, greater visibility, and greater nastiness much closer to the next election. If their original "reasoning" holds, that should make them even less willing to back the Byrd Option.

However, the greater proximity to the '06 elections, and the changed political climate may auger for a better focus of the mind on the necessity of getting this rule change done and finally putting a stop to the Democrats' defiance of the results of the past three election cycles.

There is another certainty: on the outcome of this SCOTUS nomination will GOP electoral fortunes in 2006 turn. As I wrote the other day, they screw this up at their own peril.