Frist, Do No Harm!

A mostly political Weblog.
May 31 2005 6:02 AM

Frist, Do No Harm!

Plus--McCain saves The Palm; CNN saves Thunder.

(Continued from Page 5)

"The U.S. government took corrective measures and those allegations have not resurfaced," [ICRC spokesman] Schorno said.

12:58 A.M.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

No Nuke Now II:  The WSJ's Taranto argues that it isn't in the Dems interest to postpone a "nuclear option" fight until an actual Supreme Court appointment comes up (something the Dems could do by just voting for cloture on the current crop of appellate nominees):

Kaus makes an important assumption that strikes us as highly dubious: namely, that the Dems would be better off defending the filibuster during a Supreme Court nomination fight, "when everyone's paying attention." Whatever the merits of a particular nominee, who but a partisan (i.e., someone now paying attention) would think it fair to deny him a vote? Indeed, if there's one advantage for Democrats in abolishing the filibuster now, it is that it would relieve the pressure on them from far-left interest groups to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.

Public opinion might go against the Dems if they blocked a Supreme Court nominee. But it might go in their favor. It will depend on the nominee, no? That's the case for kicking the can down the road: With the filibuster in place, Bush will be encouraged to nominate somebody reasonable, because he will want to either beat the filibuster or--and this is probably a precondition for beating the filibuster--win the high-profile PR battle over whether filibustering Dems are being unfair obstructionists. If he tries to win confirmation of a Robert Bork or Richard Epstein, he's likely to lose that PR battle. His choices will at least be circumscribed. ...

Taranto then offers two powerful reasons in favor of a strategic Dem retreat on cloture if it looks as if Frist has a chance of winning a "nuclear" vote:

If the Democrats gain Senate seats next year--or even before the election, through the death or retirement of a Republican from a state with a Democratic governor--the filibuster may suddenly lose its "nuclear" vulnerability.

Further, some Democrats have been acting against their own political interests by obstructing Bush nominees (cf Tom Daschle). Freeing them to vote for cloture could help their re-election chances, which would be in the long-term interests of the Democrats.

P.S.:Headline of the Day--"Frist's Hardball May Backfire." (This would also qualify as the most blatantly loaded anti-Frist "analysis" of the day. AP's Donna Cassata argues, "Any outcome other than [Frist] getting his way entirely could lead to the perception of an ineffectual leader." Really? If Frist gets 5 of the 7 appellate judges and a non-weaselable Democratic promise not to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee down the road? I don't like that deal--I favor keeping the filibuster for judges (and only for judges)--but it would seem a good day's work for Frist. ... [Frist's hardball may backfire, but didn't you recently refer to Sen. Reid's "headline-grabbing red meat"?-ed There's an imploding quiver of soggy counterarguments over at Musil.] ...

P.P.S.: My speculation that Republicans might perversely vote against cloture in order to block a Democratic retreat and enable an anti-filibuster showdown may have overestimated the eagerness of GOP senators to trigger the "nuclear" option. They are less eager than terrified, I'm told. That means a strategic Dem retreat should work. ...  4:22 P.M.

Mandatory Jon Klein Item: "Crime Week." Flop! Aaron Brown bristles! CNN NewsNight achieves "lowest-rated telecast ever!" Even pathetically credulous Fishbowl DC losing faith  in "visionary" Klein! ... [He just needs to hire some new stars--ed. Would you want to go work for him after the way he treated Tucker Carlson? The Army National Guard may have an easier time recruiting.] 12:06 A.M.

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