The ultimate defeat of the moderates, however, would be the successful activation of the nuclear option. Scuttling the filibuster for judicial nominees is an affront to everything the moderates have tried to promote: bipartisanship, compromise, and a check on the right wing's excesses. So far, the moderates' refusal to play along—along with the nervousness of traditionalists like Virginia's John Warner about the long-term effects on the Senate—have made it extremely difficult for Frist to corral the necessary votes. But the Republicans are close, and if Frist find a way to drop the Bomb, the moderates' lack of clout will be proved. And in the all-out partisan warfare that would be sure to follow—call it nuclear winter—they'd be stuck in a bleak no-man's land. If that happens, it'll be enough to make the Fantastic Four wish they really were in a comic book.
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