A friend of mine who's at Princeton posts the following comment re: "Nuclear Fission":
...I have a particular interest in judicial nominations and the filibuster thereof. I actually worked on the issue during the summer of 2003 in the Majority Leader's Office. I would like to make a few predictions. 1) Various interest groups will start a large scale campaign of advertisements in order to move public opinion in a direction favorable to the nuclear/constitutional option. This will begin quite soon. 2) Republicans will successfully exercise the nuclear/constitutional option with 51-52 Senators voting for it. 2) They will do so relatively soon, likely by the end of May. 3) Democratic retaliation will be loud but ultimately irrelevant. If they attempt a total shutdown, they will end up looking like Newt redux. If they attempt a partial shutdown, they will look petulant. The reporting of Michael Crowley in The New Republic ("The Day After," 4/18/05) is particularly interesting on this count. 4) Rehnquist will retire this summer and Bush will appoint a judge who Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer consider "outside the mainstream." He/she will eventually be approved with less than 60 votes.
I would love to see any comments you have.
I've been following the developments on Liberal Oasis and other web sites, and the plot is definitely thickening. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered a compromise to Majority Leader Bill Frist that would have allowed two of the less extreme of Bush's nominees through in exchange for dropping the Nuclear Option. Frist rejected it. Liberal Oasis speculates Reid might have been "going through the motions" of a compromise so Democrats would be able to say they tried to compromise when shit goes down.
Polling by and large shows the American public to be against the Nuclear Option, and even to side with Democrats on taking a stand against the nominees, though one cleverly worded GOP poll produced different results. Such is the flexible nature of polling, but I think the evidence shows Americans are against the Republicans here.
So to respond to your comments, Stephen, I believe though you might be right on predictions (1), (2), and (4), you're off on (3), which is the one that'll have big ramifications for midterm elections. This situation is clearly not analagous to the government shutdown over the budget in '95. Republicans are trying to pull a completely unprecedented, absolute takeover of power here, and it's not going to sit well with people. The noise Democrats make will indeed be relevant, because Republicans will lose (even more) seats in 2006. Perhaps you Republicans have concluded the risks/costs in the legislature are worth the benefits of the power gained in the judiciary. I think that's a reasonable analysis, but I'm betting it's ultimately wrong. I'll take a Democratic House and the initiative of agenda that comes with it -- in fact, I think that might be Democrats' best bet.