It’s been so long since this country’s seen a real compromise, we don’t understand it.
Earlier this week, a bi-partisan group of 14 senators got together and managed to hash out an agreement that avoided total shut down of the senate. Now, I find this whole thing very confusing. It’s all about the deadly dull process of parliamentary procedure, something that causes my eyes to glaze over. I avoid organized meetings like the plague. Which is why I’ve never joined the PTA.
Anyway, it’s my understanding that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was going to exercise the “Nuclear Option,” that is change the rules so Democratic senators could not filibuster the nominees for the federal appeals court. The Republicans were insisting on an up or down vote for all nominees. However, the Democrats objected because to change the rules, they're supposed to have a super majority, not a simple majority. So Frist was changing the rules to change the rules. (I know, it makes your head spin, doesn’t it?)
If everyone stuck to their guns and refused to give an inch, the senate would have come to a stand still. The Democratic minority would have slowed everything down in committee and used the senate rules to bring everything to a dead stop. And with the filibuster option gone, what would happen if say, thirty years from now the Republicans are a minority once again and really need the filibuster?
So the Democrats agreed to a vote on five of the seven nominees. And the Republicans agreed to allow filibusters for extraordinary circumstances. Cooler heads finally prevailed.
This must have been a damn good compromise because no one’s happy.
James Dobson, the ultra-right wing head of “Focus On The Family.” saw this as a "a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans, and a great victory for united Democrats." A Republican caller on C-Span’s Washington Journal referred to the Republican senators as “The Satanic Seven.” Another said Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is a disgrace to the party. Tony Perkins, of the Conservative Family Research Council, vowed there would be repercussions against the seven Republican senators come re-election time.
Despite what Dobson said, the Democrats don't feel victorious at all. Liberals all over the web are bemoaning the fact that the worst of the extremist judges will get appointed to the bench. And the Republicans will block the filabuster anyway, because who the hell knows what “extraordinary circumstances” are.
I was just relieved to find out that bi-partisan compromise is still a possibility in the senate. Or in any governmental body for that matter. We’ve become so polarized. The winners aren’t happy to win, they have to see the other side completely obliterated.
Maybe those 14 senators will serve as an example for the other 86, and working together might catch on in the Senate.