Democrat Victory - or a Republican One
If you read the papers or watched the news you heard that Democrats came out ahead in the filibuster fight; Centrists, the "gang" of 14, had won the day. Actually what happened was that Democrats jumped into a well thought out trap, one that will come back to haunt them in the future.
Let me begin by laughing at Democrats; what's all this about moderates and centrists being important? Didn't you guys just elect Howard Dean to purge the party of that element? Suddenly you decide that now they are important? Come on!
In reality, Democrats hope to use the gang of 14 to either thwart the GOP from running the Senate or reclaim power. Dream on. Do you think Harry Reid is steaming mad because he is happy? He's furious because Democrats have given up a tactical advantage and have been left holding the proverbial bag.
Democrats didn't win, there was no victory. Now I think that the filibuster should not be eliminated because it provides a check on the excesses on government. Yet the deal wrought by the gang of 14 did not actually preserve it. Perhaps postponing its demise would be a more accurate way to describe it.
Let's consider the threat by Democrats if Republicans eliminate the filibuster now, then when Democrats regain power Republicans will regret it. Well, when Democrats regain power Republicans will regret it.
That's because they won't be in power. Yet the Democrats argument is deceptive; Democrats will seek to eliminate the filibuster as soon as they have the power. Why? Because in the past they hated it; it was a thorn in the side of their efforts to shift the United States towards their vision of socialism. Their howling now about it being a "sacred part of our Senate" is only because they want to stop Republicans from governing.
In reality Democrats wished they had thought first of eliminating it. When they do regain power, the filibuster, in all forms, will be history. For Democrat's, it's a plus if Sen. Bill Frist (R., TN) acts now, they'll expand that later to wipe the filibuster out in all of its forms not just in the matter of judicial appointments.
Yet Senator Frist gained a huge advantage when the gang of 14 intervened. Democrats had spent months staking out a position that President Bush's nominees were extremists and out of the mainstream. Yet now there is agreement that three of those will pass.
So how extreme could they have been? Worse for Democrats is that now they are committed to only filibuster in extreme circumstances; and that bar has been raised far above where it had been.
Now the Republicans have lots of political cover if Democrats start to filibuster and Senator Frist pulls the plug. Now it will be Democrats cast in the role of obstructionist when Republicans produce a candidate and Democrats try to filibuster. Unless the candidate is infamous and already well known and disliked by a majority of the population, it will appear as if Democrats are partisan and petty, eager to obstruct instead of govern. Their image as noble warriors fighting against extremist candidates will be gone; now they are just partisan and disruptive.
So, why did the Democrats in the gang of 14 do it? It begins with an ability to count votes. They were going to lose the fight to eliminate the filibuster and their powerlessness would then be revealed for all to see.
For the handful of Republican moderates, it was a way to avoid being hammered by their own party and forced to vote; most of them would have whined about it but would have caved under pressure in the end and voted with Senator Frist.
Sen. Arlen Spector (R., PA) would have voted with Mr. Frist, being unwilling to risk being stripped of his chairmanship on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now the major media thinks he would have voted against the end of the filibuster. I contend that only would have happened if Senator Frist didn't need his vote and secretly released him.
Rumors also continue to circulate that several of the gang of 14 on the Democrat side are debating the possibility that life would be better if they switched to the Republican Party. Howard Dean's election continues to fuel that crisis for Democrats. Why be a powerless Democrat if you can switch? Of course, the old media finds that prospect to be so terrifying that they don't report it; they just whisper about it together over their morning coffee.
In the end the filibuster is almost certainly doomed. Republicans now have the cover to eliminate it in the case of judicial appointments and Democrats are already plotting their designs for revenge if they get back into power.
Ruling the government requires the ability to pass laws in the Senate. You can count on Democrats immediately moving to eliminate the filibuster in all forms as soon as they know they have the votes; until then, they'll speak kindly of the filibuster as if it truly is a time honored tradition they adore. The day they know they can act to remove it, they will strike; eliminating a check against their plans for a progressive America.
I believe that the deal with the gang of 14 will prove to be more bane than benefit to Democrats. The bottom line is that if either party swings too far towards the left or right it is almost a certainty that voters will react by voting them out of power.
If President Bush selects a Supreme Court nominee that most Americans do not oppose, then Democrats would deal themselves a blow by filibustering that appointment and ending the "deal."
How can they possibly justify to the Deaniacs inside their party a failure to stop any Bush nominee with right of center credentials? Will they be satisfied by an answer of "well we voted NO?" Or will the seven Democrats of the "gang of seven" find themselves in the crosshairs of former Governor Dean's efforts to restructure their party?
Democrat victory? Just look at Senator Reid, the Senate's minority leader, and tell me, does he look like he's winning?