Thursday, May 19, 2005

Another Day of Waiting

Note: Newer updates near the bottom of this post, including my thoughts on some outrageous and irresponsible comments by Senator Santorum. Ugh.

The second day of debate over the Priscilla Owen nomination begins later this morning. Here are some of the day's headlines and what to look forward to over the course of Thursday.

- The LA Times, Washington Post, Washington Times and New York Times all have wide-ranging articles covering yesterday's events.

- Picking Priscilla Owen to be the first test case was no accident, David Savage argues in the LA Times. Ron Brownstein says the longer the parties keep this partisan bickering up, the lower their approval ratings will sink. No Republicans should accept a compromise which gives the Democrats the option to filibuster in the future under any circumstances, the Washington Times argues in an editorial.

The New York Times examines the role of the White House in the fight over the nuclear option now that the debate has begun - key phrase: "treading warily." The NYT also features this on the competing rallies of the day, and a collection of excerpts from some of yesterday's speeches. In an "Op-Chart," Bush's judicial confirmation success rate is compared with those of past presidents.

Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington report on the origins of the nuclear option idea - an "outburst" of frustration by Alaska's Ted Stevens back in February, 2003. Dana Milbank analyzes some of the lofty (and not-so-lofty) language put to use in yesterday's debates. David Broder weighs in on the "generational differences" amongst Republican senators, and leaves all those concerned with the long-term impact of their decision with a "thought to ponder." Somebody ought to march to the floor and read Broder's column this morning.

- The Washington Post adds this on the compromise efforts, and Alan at The Yellow Line offers this post. I have no doubt that those involved with continue to do their best to reach an acceptable solution, and I continue to hold out hope that they will succeed.

I will be monitoring the Senate today - albeit not quite as closely as yesterday - and will report in as events warrant.

[Update: The Bull Moose asks, "Can the Center Hold?" -- 8:38 a.m.]

[Update: Via Political Wire, Mickey Kaus has an interesting point about what might happen if Democrats think they don't have the votes to defeat the nuclear option. -- 8:58 a.m.]

[Update: The Hill profiles those senators whose votes on the nuclear option are still "up in the air." The Senate debate has begun now, and seems destined to be "more of the same" rhetoric and arguments made yesterday. -- 9:58 a.m.]

[Update: Republicans this morning rejected a request from Senator Durbin to set aside the controversial Owen nomination and approve another judge. Debate continues, as compromise negotiations also proceed, with no result yet in sight. -- 11:55 a.m.]

[Update: And on we go. I was away from C-SPAN for much of the day today, but thankfully nothing very earth-shaking seems to have happened at any rate. Debate has proceeded as scheduled, with Republicans and Democrats alternating every hour or so. Carl Hulse at the New York Times has this rundown of the day's debate thus far. Discussions about a compromise continued: FOX reports that while a midday session resulted in no deal, another meeting was scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon. The report quotes the Benator as saying "Sometimes these negotiations and these consultations and meetings seem endless but you're not able to really judge how long something's going to take. I don't know if you're going to have it within the next hour or at all, but you've got to continue to talk and work through language and work through concepts."

MSNBC notes, in a report filed literally as I was writing this update, that the 3:30 round (held, as the morning session was, in the office of Senator McCain) reached no conclusion, but that another session is scheduled for this evening. Said Democrat Ken Salazar after emerging from McCain's office, "We've given it countless hours on the part of people acting in good faith. There are language issues and conceptual issues that people are still struggling with. I don’t know whether we are ten percent there, or 70 percent there."

Some more quotes from participants: Joe Lieberman - "There’s a lot of good will and people want very much to find a way back away from the precipice"; Mike DeWine - "We’re close, this thing is close, but we’re still not there." MSNBC adds that for the first time, Democratic powerhouse Robert Byrd joined the bipartisan negotiating sessions, and Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter also attended.

And of course, we couldn't get through a couple days of debate without having a horrifically inappropriate statement from Rick Santorum, the nuclear option's "Major Kong." On the floor this afternoon, Santorum blasted the Democrats for "remarkable hubris" in filibustering judges:

"I mean, imagine, the rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judges. Broken by the other side two years ago, and the audacity of some members to stand up and say, how dare you break this rule? It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine.'"

Yeah I know, I didn't believe it either. But here's the video. This kind of rhetoric is, quite simply, unbecoming of a man who holds a position of leadership in the Republican party - I find it nearly as repugnant as I found Trent Lott's musings over a hypothetical Thurmond presidency. Agree or disagree with filibusters, but to compare opponents of the nuclear option with Adolf Hitler? That crosses the line. Senator Santorum ought to apologize for this statement, or he should be severely taken to task for it.

Senator Frist announced this evening that while debate will continue through the evening tonight, there will be no votes. A cloture vote on the Owen nomination will be held sometime on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that. -- 6:49 p.m.]


At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Simon said...

The Cato Institute also appears to have picked sides (this is what I get for almost never reading their daily briefings, I'm sure I'm late on this one).

Anyway, the Cato's David Boaz writes today:

Republicans who once extolled the virtues of divided power and the Senate's role in slowing down the rush to judgment now demand an end to delays in approving President Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats who now wax eloquent about a "rubber stamp of dictatorship" replacing "the rights to dissent, to unlimited debate and to freedom of speech" in the Senate not too long ago sought to eliminate the filibuster altogether.

Republicans were right in those days. They should take advantage of the Democrats' being right today and return to protecting the rights of the minority. No party holds a majority forever, and some day Republican senators will need to use the filibuster again to stop big-government legislation and slow down a Democratic president's most liberal nominees.



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