Republicans in the Senate are engaging is some brinksmanship
in trying to persuade Democrats not to filibuster Bush's judicial nominations. Arlen Specter is wringing his hands, and Harry Reid, not one to back away from a game of "chicken" has responded that "if the Republicans made good on their threat and ruled filibusters out of order [the famous "nuclear option"], he would see to it that Senate business came to a halt."
Mr. Specter said Thursday that he took Mr. Reid at his word, saying, "If we come to the nuclear option, the Senate will be in turmoil and the Judiciary Committee will be in hell."Hugh Hewitt
calls Reid's threat "going Gingrich" referring to the former speaker's gambit of shutting down the government. (Gingrich lost decisively.) Chuck Schumer
, as reckless as Gingrich, is beating his chest and sending his troops out to invite the nukes.
Hugh is now inviting blog submissions on the question: "Does the Senate GOP Go McClellan [more drilling and marching] or Grant [fight] if Harry Reid 'Goes Gingrich?'"
I say, go MacArthur, using the nuclear option, and then go Sherman, who was the the General who saved Lincoln's re-election by taking Atlanta and brought the Civil War to a quicker end by marching through Georgia and the Carolinas, destroying the South's ability to support further warfare. I doubt that the Democrats will find the going any easier than the Republicans did when they shut down the government.
The only real question is, if the Senate were gridlocked, would anybody notice? I think that Dem Senators would soon notice that the standoff was the only thing the press wanted to ask questions about, and the Republicans would love to answer. They need to put it simply, The Constitution says the President appoints justices with "the advice and consent of the Senate." The Democrats want it to read "60% of the Senate."
I doubt that Americans will flock to the side of those who don't even want these people to get a floor vote by the whole Senate.
The Republicans will have to give up the threat of filibusters in similar situations in the future. So be it. First, it's the proper interpretation of the Constitution, and second, what's there to lose for the party who nominated Souter. I say play it by Chicago Rules:
"[T]hey pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send on of his to the morgue!" I don't know how many Democrats have to run in 2006, but Mark Dayton has already fled shrieking from the prospect, and I imagine there are a few others who aren't as safe as Schumer and Reid.
I don't understand why people think that it should be so easy to stymie action in the Senate, "the world's greatest deliberative body." If it wants to keep that title, these issues need to be decided, not by gaming the system, but by oratory, persuasion, justice, reason and democracy, not by threats and personal attacks like those used to defeat Robert Bork and to smear Clarence Thomas.