Sunday, May 29, 2005

Frist to moderates: thanks for saving my bacon

Dr. Kittykiller responds to pressure from the center to start acting like an adult:


Judicial Nominee Compromise Under G.O.P. Pressure

Just days after a bipartisan group of senators agreed to defuse a standoff over judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, found a new tool for interpreting their compromise: a Magic 8 Ball, the fortune-telling toy.

Mocking the agreement's provision that Democrats can block judicial nominees in "extraordinary circumstances," Dr. Frist suggested in a dinner speech on Wednesday that the Democratic leaders might gather around a Magic 8 Ball to decide how the phrase applied to each judicial nominee.

"Will Brett Cavanaugh get an up-or-down vote? The Magic 8 Ball says, 'Don't count on it,' " Dr. Frist said, pulling out the toy in a speech to the conservative group Gopac. "Will William Myers get an up-or-down vote? The Magic 8 Ball says, 'Better not tell you.' "

...
Social conservatives, meanwhile, have directed special outrage at Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike DeWine of Ohio, the two Republicans from relatively conservative states who provided the last votes needed to make the compromise come together. Both had agreed to vote for Dr. Frist's proposal to end judicial blockades by changing Senate rules, but last Monday they joined five other senators from the 55-member Republican majority in the compromise, denying Dr. Frist the 50 votes needed to change the confirmation rules.

"It makes no sense for them to be involved here," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative group.

For Dr. Frist, a potential presidential candidate who is courting conservative voters, the battle over judicial confirmations has become a test of his credibility with the party's social conservative base. And for many conservatives, that now means breaking the compromise.

No surprise here, although a glowstick would have been a more appropriate prop during his speech. Frist has to do this, and--who knows?--he might even believe it's the right thing to do; at this point, the melding of his ambition, impatience and belief system is pure Vader.

The real issue is how the Gang of Fourteen responds to this challenge. I'm interested to see how the "Centrist" Republicans respond, but I'm even more interested to see how much our "Centrist" Democrats will contort themselves to maintain all that "comity and goodwill" in the Senate.

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