Carol Platt Liebau: Needed: Some Backbone

Monday, May 23, 2005

Needed: Some Backbone

This piece outlines the "deal" brokered by the "moderates" on Capitol Hill.

Maybe it isn't a total travesty . . . It doesn't commit the Republicans not to invoke the constitutional option at some later date. It does guarantee an up or down vote on the nominations of Priscilla Owens, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. And given that these nominations are not deemed "extraordinary circumstances" in this instance, it will be difficult for the Democrats to filibuster any of them in the future should they be nominated for the Supreme Court (although you read it here, first -- inconsistency has never stopped the Democrats and their friends in the press).

But.

To me, there is something profoundly slimy about this "deal." Was there a principle of justice, even of constitutional magnitude, at stake -- that every judicial nominee sent up by a president (that makes it to the Senate floor) deserves an up or down vote -- or wasn't there? If the senators believe there was, then what are they doing undermining the principle they have been allegedly fighting (and asking us to fight) to vindicate? If there wasn't, then what has all the high minded rhetoric been about? Riddle me that, John McCain (and trust me, you'll have plenty of time to figure it out, because you've just guaranteed that it'll be a cold day in hell when you become president).

Even putting the Republicans' total abdication of principle aside, what about the two nominees for whom no deal was struck, Henry Saad and William Myers? Until today, apparently a majority of Republicans believed that they were qualified to sit on the circuit courts and deserved a vote to determine if they would get there. What changed? How would the senators feel if their careers were sacrificed on the altar of a political deal? By signing this agreement, have the Republicans implicitly set a (deplorable) standard: You'll get a vote as long as you're part of a constituency that the Republican Party "needs" (i.e. women, minorities, religious right conservatives) -- but if you're just a garden-variety, highly qualified white male, you can forget it?

Whatever political advantages arise from this deal, it was poorly done. Even in th most practical terms, notice that the Republican signatories all pledge to oppose the constitutional option (under all circumstances, presumably) while the Democratic signatories will oppose the use of the filibuster (unless "extraordinary circumstances" -- an elastic term, indeed -- arise). Dems have an "escape hatch" -- where is the Republicans'?

In the end, the Republicans failed to make the clear, cogent and, frankly, easy case for exercising the constitutional option -- and once again revealed themselves to be afraid of acting like a majority. It was remarkably poor leadership on the part of Bill Frist (John McCain may at least have the cold comfort of having taken Frist down with him).

Where is the commitment to principle? Where is the sense of justice and fair play -- for all people, whatever their gender and race? Where, oh where, is the backbone?

2 Comments:

Blogger Saganashkee said...

Frist needs a spine. I keep wanting to call him "Frisk" because I feel that is just what he has done to those of us that were supporting him as leader of the majority in the Senate against our better judgement. This is one time I wish there was no "I told you so!" Not one red cent for Frist and the other 6 should they want to run again, but bucks for any viable conservative challenger in the primary. The conservative blogosphere can be a great help in finding viable challengers to our lily livered Republican Senators and helping with financial and every other kind of support. That is how we get our victory after this fiasco.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Bachbone said...

Well stated piece! We now have at least three perfect examples of cartoon idiocy. 1) Charlie Brown believing Lucy won't yank the football away when he tries to kick it. 2) Wylie Coyote believing he can catch the Road Runner. and 3) The GOP believing it can trust Democrats.

9:52 PM  

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