Sunday, May 01, 2005
Action vs. reaction: David Brooks' column in today's New York Times reveals a secret aspect of the Democrats' filibuster-preserving deal that the GOP rejected last week -- in return for accepting defeat on several of the filibustered circuit court judges, Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid would guarantee enough Democrat votes to break any filibuster of President Bush's next Supreme Court nominee.
Brooks takes the position that the GOP should've taken this offer.
He [Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist] should have done it, first, because while the air is thick with confident predictions about what will happen if the nuclear trigger is pulled, nobody really knows. There is a very good chance that as the battle escalates, passions will surge, the tattered fabric of professionalism will dissolve, and public revulsion for both parties will explode.
If you are leading one of the greatest democratic institutions in history, it's irresponsible to lead it into this bloody unknown if a deal on the table will give you much of what you want. As one senator who supports changing the filibuster rules says, "Is this what you want on your obit?"
Brooks is right about this much, the situation we're in now is a big unknown. But we're where we are not because Frist just turned down this offer, but because Democrats crossed a line that had never been crossed before -- the systematic use of the filibuster to deny the majority party a vote on presidential nominees.
Brooks is urging the Republicans to snip the fuse before the fire hits the dynamite. He ignores the fact that it was Democrats who lit it.