"Nuke option" averted

I could go for McCain. Not against Hillary, the chance to elect the first female President would be great.

However, I don't think Karl Rove and the gang won because of Bush; I think it's the other way round. If they can win with Bush, they can win with anyone. The Dems would need a really strong candidate and a really strong team just to keep up.

I don't see any signs yet that the Democrats can excite anyone out of bed in the morning, much less into the voting booths.

Remember, majority in political representation does not equal majority in the popular vote. The US system is very supportive of minority rights in politics. That's why the filibuster exists.

Also, bear in mind that up until 1917, judicial nominees passed or failed based on a *unanimous* vote in the Senate. Care to put that historical standard back into play?

Time to do a little catch up.

First, let me clarify Robear's statements. In 1917, the Senate adopted its first cloture rule. For those that don't know, cloture is the procedure by which the Senate puts a time limit on further debate, thus ending a filabuster. The rule was adopted to overcome 11 Senators that were filabustering the Armed Ships bill, which would have involved the USA in WWI. It required a 2/3 majority of Senators to break a filabuster.

In 1975, a Democratically controlled Senate changed the cloture rule, reducing the number of votes needed to break a filabuster from 67 to 60. They also changed the rules of a filabuster, implementing today's 'dual track' system. Previously, in order to filabuster, the filabustering party had to actually hold the floor for the entire duration of the filabuster. Prior to this change, the longest filabuster in the history of the Senate was 21 days.

The Senate Majority leader in 1975, Mike Mansfield, changed the rule because "...[w]e cannot allow a minority of Senators to grab the Senate by the throat and hold it there." It was changed with a simple majority vote. Lloyd Cutler, the Senate counsel at the time stated that requiring a super-majority vote to change the rule was, in and of itself, "...plainly unconstitutional."

Since its implementation in 1917, the cloture rule has been changed three times. Each time in the past, it was by a Democratic majority using a simple-majority vote to limit the powers of the Republican party.

Prior to Bush's nominees, there was only one filabuster of a judicial nominee in the history of the Senate, that of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court in 1968. The goal of that filabuster was to actually prolong debate so that Fortas' shortcomings could be discussed. The filabuster lasted five days and then the Fortas nomination was voted down on the floor.

The current filabusters are not intended to extend debate. Democrats don't even pretend like that is the case. These filabusters are intended to kill a nomination that they can't win in a vote. No what anyone says, this has never, ever happened before.

We've abandoned any pretense that the President should nominate people who appeal to both sides; do you think very many of Bush's appointments would have gotten unanimous votes?

Yes. Absolutely. That's because in 1917, a filabuster would have meant talking non-stop and holding up the business of the government until debate was finished an a simple majority vote was taken on the confirmation. In 1917, Senators also understood their purpose in the process. The job of the Senate is simply to make sure that those nominated by the President are qualifiedâ€"intellectually, not ideologicallyâ€"to perform the duties the position will require. Period. And Bush's nominees are overwhelmingly qualified for the positions for which they are nominated. ideology wasn't put in as a litmus test until FDR (surprise! a Democrat) decided to stack the Supreme Court with justices that would support the New Deal.

This compromise disappoints me. The justices nominated deserve an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. And the GOP pussing out when they hold majorities in both houses and the White House disappoints me even more. One thing I can say about Democrats, if the positions were reversed, the 'nuclear option' would have been followed through on in a New York minute.


The job of the Senate is simply to make sure that those nominated by the President are qualifiedâ€"intellectually, not ideologicallyâ€"to perform the duties the position will require. Period.

I don't believe that restriction comes out in the role of the Senate to advise and consent.


One thing I can say about Democrats, if the positions were reversed, the 'nuclear option' would have been followed through on in a New York minute.

That's demonstrably not so. Both houses of Congress have been dominated by Dems in the recent past; in the 1980's, they went out of their way to ensure that the Republicans had a certain percentage of bills, representation on committees and the like. It didn't happen then; the change has come in because Republicans have changed the game and abandoned bipartisanism in favor of a push to control the whole show unequivocably.

Starting with Newt Gingrich's efforts, the Republicans have moved away from compromise, and more towards an effort to establish a single voting bloc within a majority faction. Certainly that happened during the New Deal, but that does not mean that a reprise of that will be good for the country.

That's demonstrably not so. Both houses of Congress have been dominated by Dems in the recent past; in the 1980's, they went out of their way to ensure that the Republicans had a certain percentage of bills, representation on committees and the like.

Easy to say, hard to prove.

You don't think there were agreements as to proportional representation for committee chairs and submission of bills to the floor in Congress in the 1980's? Those no longer exist; the very mechanics of bipartisanship have been disrupted in the last few sessions of Congress.

You are right. I'm having trouble finding my references, can't find the right keywords. I remember this procedural discussion when Jim Jeffords was tilting Congress back and forth and the arguments over the committee chairs and such were raging.

I've been doing some additional reading, and it looks like Frist hasn't taken the 'Constitutional option' (as he calls it) off the table. With that, I move this 'compromise' firmly into the win column for Frist and the Republicans. He got an up-or-down vote on six judges and has stated that additional filabusters won't be tolerated. This is especially crucial considering that there will probably be an opening on the Supreme Court this year or next.

Plus, apparently two of the seven Republicans involved in the deal have switched back into the Frist camp because of massive backlash from their constituents. Which means, with Cheney's tie breaker vote, Frist has the votes to change the rules if needed.

As far as I am concerned, this is good news. Having the 'Constitutional option' on the table will probably be the difference between getting a Constitutionalist like Clarence Thomas instead of a faux-Constitutionalist like Souter on the Court.

I agree with your analysis, except the value judgement about getting another Doubting Thomas on the court. I think that's a disaster, but I look forward to the massive re-alignment when the (Democratic) Revolution comes.

Seriously, I'm not sure the Republicans still understand that the wheel turns. Bipartisan agreements are always the best way to go, no matter who is on top.

I think that's a disaster, but I look forward to the massive re-alignment when the (Democratic) Revolution comes

Unless the Democrats find a message other than 'Free money here', that Revolution is going to be a long time coming...


Unless the Democrats find a message other than 'Free money here', that Revolution is going to be a long time coming...

Well, the other side of the scale can tilt too. If enough people are unhappy with the current direction, things will change.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:
Unless the Democrats find a message other than 'Free money here', that Revolution is going to be a long time coming...

How about "The other side lied, got us into a war we cannot get out of, and has put your country in debt for the rest of your lives. Try us out again."?

"The other side lied, got us into a war we cannot get out of, and has put your country in debt for the rest of your lives. Try us out again."

That will work for the people that already voted Democrat. But for the rest of us, we don't believe that being wrong=lying, that we won't get out of Iraq or that Iraq was a bad idea, and well, deficits have been bigger.

Unfortunately, the people that #3 appeals to are people like me who only believe that the Democrats would spend more.

An actual fiscal conservative would be nice though.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:
Unfortunately, the people that #3 appeals to are people like me who only believe that the Democrats would spend more.

Do I need to bring up graphs that demonstrate large increases in non-defence discretionary spending every time a Republican is in the White House in the past 40 years? Please both sides spend like crazy.

An actual fiscal conservative would be nice though.

I believe if you asked Bush about this, he would say that he is fiscally conservative. Then I would have a big laugh and never believe a word he says again.