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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Live To Fight Another Day

My first reaction to the nuclear fizzle was disappointment, partially I admit, because I thought this was a very clever opportunity for Democrats to do the single most important thing they have to do improve their image with the public --- stand up for themselves and show some guts. The "optics" of this were sufficiently murky to make that a risky play, but I felt that we had nothing much to lose. As the Milquetoast Party, anything that shows our willingness to stick together, act on principle and face down the Republicans is indisputably a good thing. This deal doesn't exactly get that done, I'm afraid.

On the other hand, the way the wingnuts are whining and blubbering, it did, so maybe that's all that matters. I'll be very interested in hearing what Rush has to say today. If he's gotten the word to spin this their way, that dynamic will change forthwith. The right prefers the fight so their first instinct when denied one is petulance. But they'll fall into line if their voices from God tell them to.

My only question going forward is this: if Janice Brown is not considered to be an "extraordinary circumstance" then who in the world could Bush possibly nominate who would be worse? Ann Coulter? (She does, after all, call herself a constitutional scholar.) I'm not sure that there are any judges who are to the right of Brown or who express more hostility not only to the constitution but to the enlightenment thought that guides it. The only thing absolutely worse would be to put an Islamic fundamentalist on the supreme court.

I suppose that they may have made some sort of informal agreement as to what constitutes a circumstance more "extraordinary" than this, but I don't know how much trust I would put in such a thing. If Brown, Owen and Pryor are confirmed, the bar has been set very, very low. It's hard to imagine how Bush could come up with anyone even less qualified or philosophically unacceptable than that, but they seem to be able to find the worst judicial freaks in the country so maybe they've been holding out on us. It also pays to remember that Earl Warren wasn't even a judge before he became Chief Justice. Bush could name James Dobson if he wanted to.

In the end, politically, I think the filibuster showdown is a wash. The Republicans didn't get to turn the Senate into the House of Representatives but they will get three unabashed idiots, racists and pre-modern troglodytes on the federal bench. It could have been worse.

More importantly, the fascist element, led by Dick Cheney, was denied the opportunity to flush another little piece of of our system of government down the toilet as a fun exercise of pure power. Each time these bastards rip out another bit our of the constitution or "change the rules" to favor one party government or "reinterpret" the law to favor Republicans, we move one step closer to a country that we will soon not be able to recognise as the one in which we grew up.

This action put that day off --- in the case of the nuclear option, maybe forever. That's a good thing.