Friday, May 27, 2005

A Good Week

As Congress leaves Washington for the Memorial Day recess, centrists and their allies in both houses have much to be proud of; it's been a very good week. On Monday, senators of both parties came together and agreed to avert the nuclear option. On Wednesday, fifty Republicans joined most Democrats in the House to pass practical, common-sense legislation that would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research on embryos that would otherwise be discarded. And Thursday, moderation and good sense prevailed again, bringing about another delay in the confirmation of John Bolton. It is not unreasonable of Democrats to request the information they're seeking from the Administration: even if it turns out that there's no "there" there, an examination of the materials is essential to evaluating allegations against Mr. Bolton - if the documents end up exonerating him of any wrongdoing, all the better: it would remove one of the dark clouds that's been hanging over this nomination for weeks.

We can't get cocky. We've got a very long way to go from this week. We don't know, not by a long shot, if the Gang of 14 deal will hold or for how long. We don't know if the Senate leadership will schedule debate and a vote in the Senate on stem cell legislation like that passed in the House, or if we'll have enough votes to override a promised (but misguided) presidential veto. We don't know (still) what will eventually happen with John Bolton. So we must temper our ebullience with caution. But, we had a good week, and those are rare. Take comfort in that, and enjoy the good feeling while it lasts.


At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Simon said...

I disagree about the Bolton nomination, because of the exigencies of the "post-nuclear option compromise" landscape. Within days of a compromise being reached, Democrats are taking an action that can easily be characterized - factually correctly or not - as an extension of the filibuster to officer nominations, not just Judges.

Furthermore, this action risks opening a major fracture in the Gang of 14 scant days after its inception:
"The honeymoon is over," Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) said sharply as he left the floor moments after senators voted 56 to 42 in favor of ending debate on Bolton's nomination. (Washington Post story, p.1 ΒΆ3 et seq.)

No matter what the merits or demerits of John Bolton's nomination, I think this was a mistake; it is utterly counterproductive. The Bush administration will not release the documents they want, and in the meantime, the right of the party have the entire memorial day break to spin this into yet more hay about how we dastardly moderates sold them out and how Democrats have won a huge victory, emboldened by which, they are now seeking - successfully - to expand.

Like Reid's hugely misjudged and provocative rhetorical victory celebrations, this becomes yet another weapon to be wielded against the very people who forged the compromise.



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