March 05, 2005

Frist's Nuclear Option

This is a very clever column by Dick Morris. I don't know if it's true or not, but the premise is this: The Republicans supposedly have more than enough votes to change Senate rules and stop Democrats from filibustering Bush's Supreme Court nominees. Nothing can stop them. Except, that is, the president himself—who clearly must be worried, according to Morris, about actually getting his far-right nominees confirmed. Because what happens then? The religious right no longer has anything to get frothed up about, so they stop coming to the polls. Meanwhile, the radical judges on the court turn the whole country against the Republican party—since it's all fun and games to rail on "liberal activist judges," but when the Supreme Court starts dictating when and where people can have sex, the people get mighty pissed off.

So yeah, clever. One other dimension: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, as the rumors go, is running for president in 2008. On Morris' theory, he probably doesn't want a liberal backlash or a complacent Christian Right four years from now, so he too would go along with this scheme. He pretends he wants to get rid of the filibuster, he makes a lot of noise about it on TV to dupe religious conservatives (who are easily duped), but he doesn't actually go through with it. And then blames Democrats for filibustering Bush's nominees.

That said, I think the theory's crap. If I'm the Republican leadership, and I had the votes, I'd get rid of the filibuster immediately and start flinging radical judges on the court. I wouldn't think twice. For one, Bush is probably only going to get two nominations to the Supreme Court. That's not enough to tip the balance and overturn Roe vs. Wade, so the religious right will still be frothing aplenty in 2008 and ready to mobilize for yet another Republican president who can complete the Great Uterus Takeover. (The religious right can also get frothed up no matter what—they'll always feel persecuted, or marginalized, or whatever it is they do for fun.) Where was I? Oh, meanwhile, the chance for Bush to appoint some serious "Constitution in Exile" judges—the sort who can strip away those pesky New Deal-era rulings, like wage protection or labor regulation or whatnot—is too good to pass up. If the new wave of judges can help destroy the labor movement, they can consign the Democrats to a permanent minority status. They'd do it if they could.

But they can't, apparently. So Frist doesn't have the votes. Bully for him.
-- Brad Plumer 5:17 AM || ||