Contamination Chamber

It was a close call. Late Monday night, a team of 14 moderate senators — seven Democrats, seven Republicans — defused an imminent vote on the so-called “nuclear option” — the elimination by the majority Republicans of the filibuster rule for judicial nominees. The details were arcane, but important: Under the compromise, three of Bush’s nominees for appellate courts will advance while two more will remain subject to filibuster, and the “nuclear option” is off the table — at least for now. This means a couple of crazies might make it to the federal bench, but the Democrats retain the procedural ability to put up a fight when it comes time for Supreme Court nominations once Rehnquist retires. Both sides claimed victory, but look at who’s most angry about the outcome. The right-wing maximalist Christian conservatives who thought they were going to run away with the government on 51 percent “mandate” are foaming mad — less so at the Democrats than at the moderates of their own party for “stabbing them in the back.” “This whole [compromise] is intellectually dishonest . . . The dignity of the Senate has not been preserved; it’s been befouled. I mean, the most deliberate body — no, this is the most craven body. If a decision can be avoided they will avoid it and then they’ll go congratulate each other and take their kudos from the Washington Post and The New York Times.”

—The Rush Limbaugh Show

“It was like watching a parallel universe. Seven giddy Republicans talking mutual trust with Robert Byrd, while Harry Reid continues attacking the president and bragging about saving the Supreme Court from the radical right. The American people won’t take this lying down.”

—Jan LaRue, “Seven Republican Dwarves Sold Out Snow White, Left Democrats With Key to Castle,” Christian Wire Service

“[The seven Republicans who signed the compromise] didn’t have the backbone and the fortitude to stand up for the fact that we are the majority.”

—The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman and founder of the Traditional Values Coalition

“This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats . . . Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U.S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.”

—James Dobson, Focus on the Family

From the right-wing blogs: Powerline: “It would be hard to overstate what a disaster this is for the Republican Party.” Michelle Malkin: “With this pathetic cave-in, the Republicans have sealed their fate as a Majority in Name Only.” Captain Ed: “We can thank Bill Frist for his lack of leadership and resolve for taking a majority and turning it into a minority. Not One Dime for the NRSC as long as Frist remains majority leader, or for the Seven Dwarves ever.”

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