Glad to see I’m not alone in my reaction. Kos is making the case for it, and of course if he is correct that this gets us a signifigantly less noxious SC justice in the long run, than I’ll concede the point. But I’m just not sure why we should believe that will be the case. I think it goes without saying that Kos (and others, including Steve Gilliard) are overstating the influence of James Dobson here. We don’t really know what the administration’s SCOTUS nominee selection process will look like, and I have no doubt Dobson and his ilk have far more influence they should in a sane world. The GOP has other factions and interests to appease as well, and they’ve been happy to screw the religious right when it suits them to do so. Let’s not assume Dobson’s rise in visibility and volume has some sort of one-to-one ratio with his rise in power.
But that’s not the point. The point is, whatever Dobson’s chances were of selecting a SCOTUS member for life, they’re not much lower now than they were before. The GOP conceded almost nothing of substance. Rather than explain it myself, I’ll let Mike DeWine have the honors:
Some of you who are looking at the language may wonder what some of the clauses mean. The understanding is – and we don’t think this will happen – but if an individual senator believes in the future that a filibuster is taking place under something that’s not extraordinary circumstances, we of course reserve the right to do what we could have done tomorrow which is to cast a yes vote for the constitutional option.
Here’s the problem with the word “extraordinary.” The GOP gets what it wants now, more or less, and all they have to do to pull this stunt again in six months or a year is insert the word “extraordinary” into a sentence. Here’s how it works:
It’s “extraordinary” that Senate Democrats would oppose this highly qualified nominee simply because of his religious convictions.
There. Done. Those words out of Mike DeWine’s mouth and we’ve right back where we started, with Priscilla Owen stinking up the 5th circuit for 40 years to boot. The more I think about this, the less I like it.
Update: One final point and I’ll shut up about this. There are those who are characterizing this a victory for the center. If by center, you mean “14 Senators who self-identify as centrist” than maybe you have a point. But if you mean “centrist politics” you’re dead wrong. Let’s be frank about what this deal did: fancy promises with out clauses big enough to drive Mack trucks through aside, this deal did one tangible thing: it sends three judges to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote, which will quite likely put them on the Appellate court bench. Anyone who has been reading this blog (or many others) knows a little about these three judges, and knows that whatever they represent, it isn’t centrism. Let’s all stop and reflect on the fact we’ve reached a point that conceding to the demands of right-wing extremists in order to prevent said extremists from attempting an ill-concieved act of political self-immolation now counts as a victory for “centrism.”
Update II: While it’s a cute line, can we please stop with “anything that pisses James Dobson off this much must be pretty good.” First of all, Dobson is always pissed off–it’s integral to his political strategy, and I suspect his personality as well. Moreover, we should never, ever take what he says at face value. Dobson’s sputtering is amusing, but let’s not draw any inferences from it.