Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eye on the prize

My friend Michael Gaffney (in comments) is anxious for the Democrats to filibuster Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Given the vaporous, non-responsive answers Alito gave the committee, I would say that a filibuster is in order, and if the Dems don't have the balls to stand up for the principles they claim are dear to America's political system, then the perception that today's Democratic political machine is spineless is, in fact, the truth! I know that the Republicans have threatened to overturn the rule that provides the filibuster to the weaker party, but I say get it on! It's time to fish or cut bait and quit this appeasement crap. When will a Dem back up his/her position with action? If not now, when? If not here, where? If not Schumer, who?

I’ve been reluctant to talk about the Alito hearings just because they are so damn depressing. But I’ll go ahead and say that my position on a filibuster is that if the Democrats want to do it then that’s great and I’m all for it. I think Alito is an appalling bad choice for the high court.
But at the same time, if they decide it is not worth it, I am not going to criticize them.
I believe the most important thing right now is the 2006 mid-term elections and the fight to regain the House and/or Senate. If filibustering Alito will not ultimately prevent him from reaching the Supreme Court, (Remeber that the Republicans aren’t exactly playing by the rules these days) and only serves to give Republicans and their media cheerleaders more ammunition (Bad Democrats! Look how they made Mrs. Alito cry!) then perhaps it is not worth it. After all, the ideological divide between O’Connor and Alito, while significant, isn’t going to mean the end of the world. And I believe that if the Republicans finally do succeed in rolling back Roe vs. Wade, there is going to be a backlash at the polls that will stick them back in the minority for years to come.
So my advice to the Democrats is to keep your eye on the prize and don’t go spinning off course in pursuit of meaningless short-term gains.

It looks like Matthew Yglesias and I are on the same wavelength with regard to the Alito confirmation.

Realistically, hopes of keeping Alito off the bench were lost in late fall 2004, when George W. Bush was re-elected and the GOP expanded its Senate majority.... the question facing the Alito nomination has always been whether Alito will be confirmed and the nuclear option implemented or whether Alito will be confirmed without the GOP needing to break a filibuster. But a congressional minority can't actually stop the Republicans from doing what they want to do.'s wrong to blame liberal interest groups, Democratic senators, progressive bloggers, or anyone else's insufficient savvy or zeal for the problem.... the only remedy is better performance on Election Day.

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