Tied up in knots

Byron York brings us up-to-date on the Senate battle over President Bush’s judicial nominees in this piece from National Review Online along with this follow-up. In essence, the Republicans still have not found a way to cope with the filibuster being conducted by the Democrats against at least two Bush nominees. The Republicans contemplated a so-called “nuclear option” under which the filibuster would be ruled illegal and that ruling would be sustained by 51 votes. However, the Republicans have decided not to go that route, at least for now. Another option is to raise the political stakes by forcing the Democrats to undertake a real filibuster, one in which they have to talk all the time and sleep on cots, and then have President Bush use his bully pulpit to attack this obstructionist behavior. Finally, as we have discussed before, Bush could make recess appointments.
Unfortunately, York reports that, instead of employing one or more of these measures, the current plan is to introduce a bill to modify the rules on voting to end filibusters. But York notes that “no one believes the measure has enough votes to succeed or to end the curent filibusters.” Indeed, York’s two pieces suggest that there is no real plan to defeat the Democrats’ strategy except to try to make them pay in the next election. If so, this means that the Democrats will succeed in changing the rules by which judicial nominees are confirmed, such that mainstream conservatives (and, one hopes, mainstream liberals) can only be confirmed when the opposition party is not only defeated but trounced.

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