The Moose urges the Donkey to tread carefully in a nuclear age.
At this point, it is not clear whether the Republicans have the votes to invoke the nuclear option. Frist has little room to maneuver as he panders to the hard core right. The good doctor has apparently placed his conscience in a blind trust as he runs for president. As a result, compromise is unlikely.
Dr. Frist is a truly a Senator of distinction. While he has performed admirable humanitarian work and is evidently a talented surgeon, he will likely be remembered as one of the worst Majority Leaders in the history of the Senate. Dr. Frist has consistently put his political ambitions before the interests of the institution. At every point, he has refused to achieve a compromise to forestall this confrontation.
To protect minority rights, the filibuster should be preserved. However, while some of the Bush appellate nominees are abhorrent and should be rejected, the filibuster should be employed only on rare occasions.
In any event, it is hardly worth it to both lose the filibuster and for Bush to gain his nominees. Added to the likely victory in the Bolton confrontation, W could get a big boost at a time when his popularity is fading and his social security proposal is dead in the water.
Moreover, in the aftermath of the nuclear exchange, it is not entirely clear what the strategy will be or that it will successfully inflict pain on the Republicans. Democrats must seen as fighting for principle and not merely obstructing for partisan retribution.
That is not an easy task. It is quite possible that the American people will be repelled by the behavior of both parties.
Yes, Democrats should vigorously fight for principles as they have in the social security confrontation. While the Democrats have come too far in this filibuster confrontation to capitulate, they should also avoid placing themselves in a position where the Republicans can attack them as the party of "no".
The danger for both parties is that the American people will sicken of the poisonous partisan bickering. This could make for interesting times in 2008 if a enterprising independent emerges inside the party system - or outside of it. --