Skip to comments.Winning Ugly ("Republicans Are Doing Better Than You Think")
Posted on 06/10/2005 9:39:49 PM PDT by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
WHO'S WINNING IN WASHINGTON RIGHT now? Republicans, President Bush included. But they are winning ugly, and just barely. Actually, if success on Social Security reform is the yardstick, Republicans aren't winning at all. What changes the score is success on judges. Thanks to the Gang of 14 deal to save the filibuster, a parade of relatively young and attractive conservatives are now being confirmed for the federal appeals courts, putting them in position to be nominated later for vacancies on the Supreme Court.
When the agreement on judicial nominations was struck in May by seven Republican and seven Democratic senators, many conservatives agreed with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that it was a victory for Democrats. They were wrong. Since the agreement, the three prime targets of Democrats--Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor--have all been confirmed, plus two other less controversial nominees. And more conservatives are in the confirmation pipeline. So while Bush's chances of creating personal investment accounts have faded, his goal of shifting the ideological tilt of the federal judiciary is closer at hand.
Considerable credit goes to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Without his pressure to enact the so-called nuclear option barring filibusters of judicial nominees, the deal leading to the string of confirmations would not have occurred. Also, the showdown over filibustering helped place the very idea of filibustering judges in an unfavorable light. This is especially significant with the likelihood of a Supreme Court vacancy (or two) this summer. Another result was to declare, as the Gang of 14 senators did, that the filibuster may be used to block a judicial nominee only in "extraordinary circumstances."
Who decides when these circumstances occur? The answer is Republicans. Reid said the nuclear option is "off the table." But it's not. Three Republican members of the Gang of 14--Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John Warner of Virginia--indicated they would vote for the nuclear option if Democrats filibustered a nominee who was a conventional conservative and not an extremist. Such a nomination would not constitute "extraordinary circumstances." And only two of them would need to defect from the Gang of 14 deal to pass the nuclear option.
The fight over judges showed again the fecklessness of Reid. He mischaracterized the upshot of the Gang of 14 deal because he actually believed it was a triumph for Democrats. Reid has scarcely any influence over the Senate Democratic caucus. Heavyweights like Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware don't follow his orders. Reid promised Frist he would deliver enough Democrats to prevent a filibuster of John Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations. He couldn't deliver. Reid is no Tom Daschle, who was an effective obstructionist.
Republicans have also been aided by Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, who has made himself a big issue. He has stereotyped himself as a trash-talking party chairman. And the press has responded accordingly. Reporters now look for him to blast Republicans in over-the-top language. Or they ask him to repudiate the harsh things he's already said. Rather than make a fool of himself, Dean is supposed to be raising money and expanding the party. He's failing at both.
In comparison, Ken Mehlman is doing exactly what he's supposed to as Republican national chairman. Mehlman spends much of his time proselytizing Hispanics and blacks. He makes no wild charges about Democrats. Interviewed on Meet the Press, he declined even to criticize Dean. Mehlman proves that a strategist is better suited to be party chairman than a politician who has held elective office. His top goal is enlarging the Republican coalition. Dean lusts after the roar of the crowd and thinks about what office he'll run for next.
At a White House meeting last week with Republican congressional leaders, the president made a confession. He's been promoting legislation to allow thousands of illegal immigrants to get green cards and work legally for three to six years in the United States. "I have not communicated this issue as well as I should have," he was quoted as saying. "I'm going to do better."
What Republicans on Capitol Hill want is for Bush to emphasize border security. At town hall meetings in the home districts of House Republicans, the problem of illegal immigrant crossings is a hot topic. House Republican whip Roy Blunt believes a few legislative steps are needed to pave the way for Bush's plan to let illegals work in the United States. One would be to tighten restrictions on hiring illegal aliens. Another would be to give employers access to information about an immigrant's legal status. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay favors even tougher legislation. In any case, the Bush plan is not a top priority in Congress for now.
Social Security reform, however, remains a priority, despite the president's inability to stir public support. His plan is in the same position tax reform was in 1986. It seemed to have no national constituency, but it had the backing of President Reagan and a few Democrats. Tax reform passed, cutting the top rate on individual income to 28 percent. Bush's hopes for overhauling Social Security now depend not on public enthusiasm but on "legislative maneuverings" in Congress, a White House official said.
That is shorthand for persuading a few Democrats to break with their party. Bush hasn't been able to recruit any and neither have Republican leaders. But they faced the same situation earlier, on judicial nominations, and look what happened there.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
He's ill-suited for his job and he knows it. It's restrictive for a frothing-at-the-mouth socialist like he, plus he has very little real power.
Well, that's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.
Yes the pressure to vote on the so-called nuclear option is what has given us the three judges in the last week. Contrast that to what Lott did as leader and what Frist did as leader, early. Back then, RINO's were never outed because behind-the-scenes Whip counts were always the final word.
This is not the case with Frists 2005 strategy. RINO's nolonger having the luxury of the anonymous Whip count being the final vote. RINO's like Voinovitch, Graham and DeWine have paid the price.
We now have three good judges and the so-called nuclear threat remains. Let's get some more judges.
If this is accurate about the Pubbies in the Gang of 12, I'll be first to step up and apologize for my anger at our guys. I sure was convinced that they'd bailed!
I like winning. I'd rather win ugly than lose with dignity.
"The winner is the only individual who is truly alive", George Allen
"Every time you win, you're reborn; when you lose, you die a little", George Allen
Gang of FOURTEEN...
I think my kids have a chance to see their FICA go somewhere besides a rathole.
Who gives a crap about Bush's meager pet SS project? i sure don't. It has failed, and his 2nd term is a real disappointment thus far. But Judges represent our children's future America. And now Bush can freely name either of these three to the SCOTUS with no possiblity of fillibuster (The RATs could never defend it given their past agreement)
Judges represent the childrens future, but the SS plan has nothing to do with our childrens future. Your not making sense.
That's an interesting theory. I hadn't considered that possibility.
Well .. I believe he's ill-suited for the job .. because if you measure him against the great job Ken Mehlman is doing - there's just no comparison.
But .. I agree that Dean would probably rather have the freedom to really say what he wants. I'm wondering if he thought nobody would be paying attention to him and he could get away with this awful junk language ..?? I guess we'll see what the dems are going to do.
The dems are either sitting on their money because of Dean's comments, or they are sitting on their money because Hillary ask them to.
could very well be... much stranger things do happen!
I think we need to drop the saying "going postal" in favor of "going Dean."
You can say the same about this post. The Democrats are controlled by the Clintons and those crooks don't do anything without a plan. Dean is a loony on purpose. That is his job. Meanwhile, both Bill and Hillary are being amazingly reasonable on many issues, moving to the right as some say. The contrast between them, Dean and the rabid Senate Dems is being created to make Hillary look oh so calm and middle of the road as we lead up to 2008. Hillary, Prez - Bill, Sec. General.
Dean is supposedly raising money for the party but behind the scenes Hillary is sucking up all the big bucks, leaving none for her challengers. This is supposedly for her 2006 Senate bid but she is getting too much for a race she should win going away. She is cleaning the streets of all available funds and doing it quietly.
Nice try, Fred. Unh-unh. The three that are going to vote for the "option" just started learning what the price would be and have started hinting they were doing it for the prez all along. I like the spin, but I don't believe it.
Bingo. This article strikes me as "high spin"/damage control.
From square one, the renegade Repubs should have been clearly told what the price would be for their lack of loyalty.
The fact that Frist has been unable to "herd the cats" here is indicative of his lack of true leadership skills and lack of loyalty throughout the caucus.
There should be - and must be - a price to those who refuse to get back in the boat. And it must be excessive and all encompassing. Take away committee chairmanships. Take away national funding from the RNC. Do everything but kick them out of the party. But make it clear that those who don't support the President's agenda are not on the team.
THEN, we may just get a few things done. Otherwise, 3 whole judges is NOTHING to get excited about - unless it's 3 SCOTUS slots.
Heck, W, why stop there -- why don't you just make anyone who walks across the border an instant citizen?
I wish Fred Barnes would take a shower and leave the weakly standard. Let little billie write all the articles, then he could devote a whole issue to john mcpain (media) Az his favorite pubbie.
I don't get how having it's a big deal to pass judges when you have majorities in congress and the president in the same party.
Is this some big deal? Shouldn't it just be expected?
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