In light of Aaron’s post yesterday on the Senate compromise over judicial filibusters and the extensive dialogue in the comments over this issue I figure I would take this opportunity to weigh in with a few thoughts of my own.
Let’s face the facts here: Republicans are spineless. Specifically, I blame majority leader Bill Frist for not pulling the trigger on the so-called "nuclear option" a lot sooner.
Frist’s actions remind me a lot of what I once heard called the threatening-repeating parent. This is a parent who has a child who misbehaves and the parent threatens punishment but never follows through on it. As a result, the child has license to continue misbehaving in the same way since they know there will be no consequences for their bad behavior.
While the compromise allows for three of President Bush’s nominees to get up-or-down votes it doesn’t really stop Democrats from filibustering a nominee later on that they feel is too far "out of the mainstream". Democrats have escaped the political consequences of their filibusters thanks to spineless Republicans. In fact, this compromise allows Democrats to get away with filibustering two nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American woman and Priscilla Owen, a Caucasian woman) who come from two of their primary constiuencies and not have to be held accountable for their actions.
But the larger issue here is that the entire nomination process is broken and badly needs to be fixed. If Republicans were truly interested in exercising leadership they would look for ways to change the rules for the confirmation process that would allow both the majority and minority parties an opportunity to voice their concerns while at the same time ensuring that the process is completed in a timely fashion. Perhaps then the Senate can return to providing advice and consent as required by Article II of the Constitution instead of turning the confirmation process into an opprotunity for political grandstanding.