Monday, May 23, 2005

"Extraordinary Circumstances"?

Without having seen the exact terms of the filibuster deal, the "extraordinary circumstances" clause sounds an awful lot like the "health of the mother" exception liberals always wanted to insert into into the partial-birth abortion ban.

The question is: In practice, will "extraordinary circumstances" for judicial nominees become what "depression" was for the "health" of mothers wanting late-term abortions?

Update, 5/24/05, 10:15 a.m.: Beldar goes much further calling the Republicans responsible for the compromise "seven gutless suckers."

10 comments:

Mycroft said...

This is a truce, a deferral of hostilities. Expect to renew, about a year from now.

Anonymous said...

God damnit! The Senate Republicans just re-elected Nelson and condemned late-night TV viewers to another episode of the tonight show with John Mccain. Here's a good question for Galley Slaves readers: Pinpoint the moment Mccain went from somewhat principled conservative Senator to complete media whore. Most people would probably say it was SC 2000, but I get the feeling it was before that. He'd been an Imus regular for years before 2000 and it always scare me how much he seemed to like the attention. Nowadays he's about as conservative as Linc Chafee on key issues.

Serenity Now said...

Without having seen the exact terms of the filibuster deal, the "extraordinary circumstances" clause sounds an awful lot like the "health of the mother" exception liberals always wanted to insert into into the partial-birth abortion ban.

Exactly what I've been thinking since I first heard the phrase "extraordinary circumstances". Democrats' interpretation will be as elastic as convenience requires.

If they filibuster Myers or Saad, then "extraordinary circumstances" will be revealed to mean "whenever we feel like it."

Liz said...

After this stinker of a deal, I just have to believe that the Democrats must have something (dark, dirty secrets perhaps?) on enough Republican senators to ensure that the party continually buckles on the truly important issues. What a bunch of spineless idiots. It's time to seriously consider switching to Independent voter registration. Oh, and note to GOP fund raisers, I apologize in advance to the poor fool who is unlucky enough to be the next to call me asking for a donation.

Serenity Now said...

Anonymous: Pinpoint the moment Mccain went from somewhat principled conservative Senator to complete media whore. Most people would probably say it was SC 2000, but I get the feeling it was before that. He'd been an Imus regular for years before 2000 and it always scare me how much he seemed to like the attention. Nowadays he's about as conservative as Linc Chafee on key issues.

I think McCain's public craving for press love started right about when he got busted as one of the Keating Five.

He is starting to behave like a caricature of a self-adoring politician: "Mr. McCain, a chief architect of the deal ... had to leave the [filibuster agreement] press conference before it ended to make an early screening of a movie about himself." So many fans, so little time!

arrScott said...

"Extraordinary circumstances" is pretty clear: It's any time President Bush nominates a judge without being able to gain the support of five Senate Democrats for the nomination.

In a prudent and minimally competent administration, this would be never. It's a pretty easy standard to meet even while putting Bush's brand of conservative big-government activists on the court. Democrats have let pass a couple hundred such judges already. But the Bush administration is neither prudent nor minimally competent - or at least, not concerned with doing the business of governing, as opposed to the business of posturing to frame issues for future elections - and so "extraordinary circumstances" will be pretty much any time the Senate considers a Bush nominee to the DC Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

I can't imagine why the Senate leadership would have accepted this deal, though, unless Frist simply didn't have his 50 votes to ram through the rules change (in which case the Republicans need a new majority leader, since Frist isn't leading a majority). Sure, the Democrats bogging down the business of the Senate would have prevented President Bush from passing much legislation in his second term. But Bush is already a lame duck. He already has a hard time passing legislation other than corporate welfare because his vice president is not a plausible successor. That means that the Republican legislative leadership has to worry more about their actual and potential constituencies in 2007 and 2008 than about the president's agenda today.

Had Bush dumped Cheney in favor of, say, Norm Coleman, Coleman would be the presumptive nominee in 2008. That would mean that on almost every legislative issue, Republicans would have to choose between being for Bush/Coleman or against Bush/Coleman. But with no visible successor in place to offer an effective third Bush term, Republicans are not faced with such a stark choice on every issue, and are less willing to stick to the "for Bush" position if it comes at the expense of satisfying their own narrower interests.

In this environment, the Bush legislative agenda is already mostly doomed by gridlock on the Republican side, much like Clinton faced for different reasons in 1994. If legislation won't be moving through the Senate anyway, and it won't, might as well let the Democrats set themselves up to take the heat for any legislative paralysis.

Anonymous said...

arrscott, you're out of your gourd.

Which is more extraordinary -- that the Bush administration cannot get Democrats to support these nominees or that Democrats have decided, with certain high-profile nominees (seemingly based on the wishes of dangling-off-the-edge leftie interest groups), decided to exert an unprecedented procedural stranglehold on Constitutional process?

Is it more extraordinary that Bush can't get Democrats to support these nominees, or that Democrats (Leahy, Schumer, etc.) leading the charge against said nominees have abandoned all past principles concerning judges -- the ABA "gold standard", no litmus test... and catch the strong whiff of revulsion for any nominee (high-profile, leftie-lathering-up nominee) with "deeply held" religious beliefs.

Is it more extraordinary that Bush can't get Democrats to support these nominees, or that Democrats in attacking these nominees are willing even to hint sinisterly at classified FBI information?

The political situation is novel --"extraordinary" -- and I suppose it is disconerting that opinion is so polarized that so few Democrats will support the nominees, but then again given the lack of good faith on the part of the Democrats, it's a wonder why the other side would want their support.

The deal struck last night is most horrifying in that it practically concedes the presumption -- despite being prompted solely by left-wing fringe groups -- that Democrats define what views constitute "the mainstream."

Larry Rasczak said...

THIS JUST IN....
In an astonishing late night deal, Sen. John McCain and his group of moderate Republicans have announced that they have reached an historic compromise with other Senate modarates, and have given Senate Democrats title to the Sudetenland!!

"This will ensure peace in our Senate" McCain was quoted as saying. "I have met with Mr. Dean and feel that he is a reasonable man and someone I can deal with."

McCain then waived a scrap of paper at the his ever present entourage of adoring media cameras saying that "only the most extraordinary circumstances" would justify the Democrats breaking the agreement. When asked to define what those circumstances might be such extraordinary events as "the sun rising in the east" or "water going down a drain"....

That Dude said...

Ill play devil's advocate. Doesnt all this deal do is establish that in the future arch conservatives like Pryor et al cant be filibustered as their views now cant be onsidered "extraordinary circumstances"? Thats not a bad thing.

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