My personal feelings about this concur with that of Reid - I have argued before that the Plame affair and its investigation should prove beyond reasonable doubt that the White House lied to the American people (and to its international allies) in order to start a war. I was probably a little too naive in this hope - especially since only Libby has been indicted and the actual crime itself (the revealing of Valerie Plame's CIA identity) has yet to be solved.
But it seems Harry Reid and other Democrats may have decided that enough was enough. Bill Frist's expressions of disgust were amusing, but, to balance it out, I think Reid may have done the same had their positions been reversed.
With this new found proactivity amongst the Democrats, it is now possible that they may choose to Filibuster the nomination of Sam Alito to SCOTUS. In response, the Republicans could choose the Nuclear Option - which would essentially allow the Senate to pass nominees by a simple majority without any interference from the minority.
(A filibuster can stop the nomination of any bill if between 40 and 50% of the Senate choose to. A filibuster can be stopped if 60% or more of the Senate act to. The Nuclear Option is the passing of a law that will stop any filibusters of Judicial Nominees)
With the Bush administration at its political nadir, and an increasing disenchantment with the Republican party, it was only a matter of time before the Democrats acted. Politically, they have little to lose if they choose to filibuster Sam Alito. If they succeed, then the President has to nominate yet another candidate for SCOTUS, if the Republicans detonate the Nuclear Option, the Democrats will be seen as brave and courageous for standing up to the Republican majority.
I'll state from the outset that if I was in America I would probably vote for the Democrats, although I would refrain from official membership and making donations. You see, even though the Democrats are more aligned to my political beliefs, I still see them as politicians who will often "play the game" in order to maintain their position and power. Just as many conservatives are realising that George W. Bush is not the Conservative they thought he was, there is no doubt that there are Democratic politicans who only hold more liberal values because it allows them to gain political power. At this present moment in time I may seem quite anti-Republican and pro-Democrat, but that is only because, at the moment, the Republicans seem to be doing the wrong thing. If in the next ten years I see Democrats doing the wrong thing, I would naturally oppose them too. There is a solution to this - radically change the nature of a representative democracy. But, until that happens, I'll just have to keep blogging my complaints...
Hitting the Nuclear Option button - especially when polls are showing a marked dislike of the Republican party - will further alienate the GOP from ordinary people. By changing the rules, the GOP will be seen as "cheats" (even though there is nothing unconstitutional in the actual Nuclear option law). It is hardly going to help their 2006 mid-term election chances.
The 2006 mid-term election puts up for grabs 33 seats in the Senate - 17 currently held by Democrats, 15 held by Republicans, and 1 Independent. If the Democrats are to regain power in the Senate, then they need to keep their 17 seats and gain 7 seats. Ordinarily, this is not an easy task, but this depends upon the feelings of voters - especially those who might feel betrayed or annoyed by the Bush administration and the GOP generally.
What this means is simple - with the Nuclear option already used, a Democratic majority in the Senate could easily prevent a Republican filibuster. Moreover, any nomination of Federal Judges (including SCOTUS) by President Bush could easily be defeated. If a Democratic presidency occurs (either in 2008 or sooner, depending upon whether Bush remains unimpeached), then the Democrats will have the power to approve any left-leaning judge the President sends their way.
If this were to happen then it would be an irony of Shakespearean magnitude - that the GOP, so committed to absolute power, would set up a system that, in the end, would give more power to their enemies.
Given this information, what should the GOP do?
- They should dismantle the Nuclear Option. ie they should explicitly back down from ever using it.
- They should encourage the President to nominate more centrist judges rather than John Birch conservatives.
- They should work actively to investigate the claims that the White House manufactured evidence to force the US into invading Iraq.
But I'm looking into the long-term. I'm trying to predict the political fallout of the Plame affair and the potential impeachment of both the President and Vice President. In this future, the GOP will suffer mightily. The three points I make above will not prevent this suffering, but it will minimise it, and perhaps, in time, restore any lost respect.
From the One Salient Overlord Department
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.