Honest and serious

In contrast to the Washington Post editorial discussed below, David Broder provides a sensible discussion of breaking the Senate impasse over judicial nominations. Broder argues that the Democrats “should make a deal.” And unlike the Post, Broder has in mind a serious deal. In fact, he suggests that the Democrats should respond to, rather than totally reject, Senator Frist’s compromise plan. That plan would provide up to 100 hours of debate per disputed nomination, and put an end to the practice (used in the past by both Republicans and Democrats) of blocking nominees in committee.
Noting the obvious — that 100 hours is enough time in which to make the case against a nominee — Broder concludes that Senator Reid’s opposition to Frist’s plan must be based the fact that he “does not trust the majority of senators. . .to weigh the merits of these judges after hearing all the arguments.” Broder goes on to argue that Reid is wrong, in that the centrist senators in both parties who hold the balance of power “will give due deference to the president’s selections for the bench but exercise their own judgments on those jurists’ fitness for these lifetime appointments.”
I would have argued, instead, that Senator Reid’s lack of trust in the majority is insufficient grounds to block the will of the majority forever, and the very reason why Republicans must take matters into their own hands. But Broder’s point is a good one too, and perhaps more helpful in pointing a way out of the impasse. If Bush’s nominees are truly outside of the mainstream, then the Democrats should be able to persuade moderates like Senators Collins, Snowe, Specter (apparently not persuaded at the hearings), Chafee, McCain, Hagel, and Voinovich to oppose them. Maybe they can find evidence that some of the nominees have yelled at people on occasion. The fact that the Democrats aren’t really interested in making their case to these Senate moderates strongly suggests that they have little faith in the merits of their arguments.


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