Thursday, June 9

The Center Can Hold

Ben's mention of the Senate's confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown coupled with the impending vote on Bill Pryor (the most anti-gay appellate nominee in recent memory) prompts me to revisit the nuclear option debate from a couple of weeks ago, which I had intended to write about.

As a contrarian at heart, anything that pisses off the extremists on both sides of an issue will generally be to my liking. Thus it was when moderate Senators stole the thunder from majority leader Bill Frist and his liberal opponents by reaching a compromise on the filibuster privilege. As the LATimes put it at the time:

For now, the last-ditch compromise on confirming federal judges was a striking reassertion of the power of the political center in a bitterly polarized environment, pulling the Senate back from the brink of a crisis that threatened to paralyze the institution and dramatically change its character.

The result was outrage from interest groups on the left and the right. (The WashTimes cried treason.) Certainly, the practical effect has been to move forward on confirming some radical nominees, of which Pryor is the worst. (The Log Cabiners are actively campaigning against him, if that tells you anything.) But more importantly, the compromise demonstrated to the bigot brigade the limits of their power. The NYTimes explained:

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of the Christian conservative group Focus on the Family, called the deal "a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans," adding: "We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November."

Words to put a grin on my face. I first knew I liked John Warner when he singlehandedly kept Ollie North from becoming a U.S. Senator from Virginia. To learn that he's earned the self-righteous enmity of Donald "Boycott Ford" Wildmon simply raises his stature in my estimation. Of course he had help from John McCain and a bunch of ladies who legislate.

Cheers to them, and jeers to that bastard Pryor. Let's see if the Senate's moderates can be swayed to vote against him.

Update: Too late.