Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why We Probably Won't Fight

Salon has a story by Walter Shapiro on the Filibuster Fiasco. I'm not sure I agree entirely with his analysis, but he does raise some good questions.
An intriguing question, if one entirely theoretical at this point, is what might have happened if Senate liberals had decided at the outset that they would use the filibuster to prevent the Alito-for-O'Connor seat swap. For Alito was the be-all-and-end-all Supreme Court nominee -- the moment to put aside wait-until-next-year caution. The odds on such a filibuster still would have been long, but at least there would have been a glimmer of coherence to a get-40-votes opposition strategy. Yes, Republican senators might have succeeded in employing the "nuclear option" (outlawing by a majority vote all filibusters against judicial nominees), but if a Democrat were elected president in 2008, that would have turned out to be a short-sighted GOP ploy. Instead, Alito opponents are now left with plenty of nothing. Even if there are future vacancies during the Bush era, Democrats are sufficiently demoralized that they would probably join in approving John Ashcroft to the Supreme Court on a voice vote.
That is the key problem with the filibuster situation - Democrats never actually came up with a strategy for opposing Alito. More to the point, they never came up with a compelling reason to oppose Alito. Some seemed to think it was abortion, others that he lied on application or belonged to a racist organization in college (one or the others). For some it was that he supported executive power to the Nth Degree (in my opinion, this was the best reason to oppose him). But without a unified reason to oppose him, we were left with "Democrats don't like him because he is a Republican."

Which isn't enough.

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