By the time this thing plays out the Democrats (at least the â€śarch-liberalâ€ť and â€śrunning for Presidentâ€ť varieties) will be forced to mount a filibuster. Which brings us back to the GOP threat of implementing the â€śconstitutionalâ€ť or â€śnuclearâ€ť option, which would involve amending Senate rules to forbid filibusters of judicial nominees â€“ which will put the filibuster compromisers square on the griddle.
The seven Republican members of the â€śgang of 14â€ť will feel immense pressure to support a filibuster rules change and the seven Democrat members will be pressured to oppose it â€“ initially. I say initially because my theory is, at that point, theyâ€™ll realize that the jig is up and theyâ€™ll vote to end the filibuster of Roberts by voting for cloture and â€śsit their friends downâ€ť, take a hug lump from the Democrat faithful for doing so and consequently save the judicial filibuster and live to â€śobstruct another dayâ€ť. Either that or they lose both the battle on Roberts and their long-term battle with Bush over the judiciary.
My guess is, after itâ€™s all said and done (which will be a lot), theyâ€™ll take one for the team â€“ whether the team appreciates it or not. The Democrat faithful will feel betrayed and this will open the possibility of some damage to the cohesiveness of the Democrat constituency / coalition in the long-term.
In that sense, the â€ścompromiseâ€ť will have been a pyrrhic victory for the Democrats. Instead of â€śfighting the fightâ€ť and going down swinging (becoming heroes to the base and whipping them into a frenzy), theyâ€™re about to be put in a position of directly opposing their core supporters. And when the inevitable blow-up comes, the Democrats will form a circular firing squad.
Thatâ€™s what makes this pick so brilliant. The conservative base gets what it wanted, a real conservative judge to replace a swing vote on the Supreme Court, and the White House gets what it wanted, credit from conservatives for the pick and to drive a wedge between the Democrats and their base.
Christmas came a little early this year.