Monday, May 02, 2005

The spirit of Democrats lately is less "Give 'em Hell Harry" than "Coffee with that? Colmes". Last week, there seemed to be another example: with polls showing the public firmly against Republican attempts to get loons appointed as federal judges by banning the filibuster in the Senate, the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid, was still trying to cut a deal, preserving the filibuster as a technical notion, in return for letting some of the loons through.

The deal fell through, and liberal blogs sung with praise for Reid. His apparent cave-in, it seemed, was really a canny tactic for exposing the extremism of the Republicans under Frist -- a bluff the Republicans hadn't dared to call.

Which the same sort of thing that Dubya's supporters on the net say about his diplomacy.

And in this case, I'm no more inclined to believe it. Now comes David Brooks, to inform us that the deal , as offered, was even sweeter than had been announced in public. In return for preserving the filibuster as a kind of theoretical construct, Reid was apparently promising that there would be no actual filibuster on the next Supreme Court nominee, no matter who it was. Brooks thinks that Frist was a fool not to take the offer. He would have gotten the judges through, without the procedural chicanery that was killing him in the polls. And for once, I agree with David Brooks: Frist was a fool.

But Frist didn't take the offer, so no harm done, right? Don't count on it. If the Republicans decide not to go "nuclear" (their term), they may well come sniffing around to see if the deal is still on the table. With the promise to complain bitterly if it's not. What would Kos expect Reid to do then -- go on Press the Meat and explain that he can't be held to his earlier offer because it was really meant as a mere strategic bluff?

More: As noted in comments below, Mark Schmitt thinks it never happened. It wouldn't be the first time a right-wing columnist for the Times has been caught making things up. I still think that even the public version of the deal was a bad idea. The public didn't need a "bluff offer" to reveal the Republican position as extreme -- the polls show that they already see it that way. And one of the raps on Democrats with swing voters is that they're wimps who stand for nothing. They won't get away from that by offering compromises on matters of principle -- even as bluffs (which the other side may still, one fine day, call...)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reid is only a fool if the story is true. Mark Schmitt doesn't believe it.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

(this is "anonymous" from above)

I agree with your update. I've read some weblogs that think Reid has some brilliant strategy, but I don't see it. On the other hand, I can't believe that he would offer to approve supreme court justices sight unseen, so I would tend to believe that Brooks is either making it up or was deceived.

2:08 AM  

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