Senate Moderates Avert Polarizing Filibuster Showdown

Senate moderates from both parties have pulled a political magical rabbit out of a hat, brokering a deal that will, in effect, kill — for now, at least – attempts to ban the filibuster on judicial nominees.

It’s an incredible accomplishment, given what was facing this group of Democrats and Republicans just today:

  • Working not-so-quite-behind the scenes to cut a deal and being denounced as either traitors or weak principled politicos because they — unlike some on the right and left — did not want want total political war.
  • Working for a deal on a day when President George Bush (see our earlier post linked below) basically took the gloves off and made it clear that he wanted the “nuclear option” to ban the filibuster, thus increasing pressures on wavering moderates in his own party who were not automatically towing his and Majority Leader Bill Frist’s party line.
  • Senator Frist indulging in some psychological warfare, by having cots moved in as he planned an all night session. Frist has been most adamant on promoting an end to the filibuster — a policy adamantly demanded by Christian Evangelicals, a constituency he has carefully cultivated as he has moved closer to what many believe is an inevitable bid to run for President in 2008.
  • Working amid rumblings from some on both sides that any kind of a deal that did not adhere to strict victory for one side could mean political retribution later on. For instance, a key mover and shaker for this deal has been Arizona Senator John McCain who is widely believed to be readying to run for President himself in 2008. McCain this weekend effectively dismissed threats from some in the GOP that his political aspirations would be dead if he at all interfered in preventing an end to the filibuster.

    Here are some of the details on what happened:

    In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists agreed Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation of many of President Bush’s stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable filibuster rules.

    “In a Senate that is increasingly polarized, the bipartisan center held,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (search), D-Conn., one of 14 senators — seven from each party — to sign the agreement that pledged lawmakers to “mutual trust and confidence.”

    “The Senate is back in business,” echoed Sen. Lindsey Graham (search), R-S.C.

    Note again that these are centrists from BOTH PARTIES. So tomorrow Rush, Sean, and Michael will have targets in both parties who they can call obstructionists. More:

    Under the terms, Democrats agreed to allow final confirmation votes for Priscilla Owen (search), Janice Rogers Brown (search) and William Pryor, named to appeals court seats. There is “no commitment to vote for or against” the filibuster against two other conservatives named to the appeals court, Henry Saad and William Myers.

    The agreement said future nominees to the appeals court and Supreme Court should “only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances,” with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

    “In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement,” Republicans said they would oppose any attempt to make changes in the application of filibuster rules.

    But Ron Forrnier, AP Political Writer, notes that the stakes are still high:

    An eleventh-hour deal did little to diminish the political implications of the Senate’s up-to-the-brink confrontation over President Bush’s judicial nominations.

    It’s still about the shape of the Supreme Court, the midterm election in 2006, the next presidential race and the future of comity in Congress. Only the dynamics changed when Senate moderates announced a compromise Monday night that frees up many of Bush’s picks, puts others in limbo and preserved longstanding filibuster rules.

    He offers a detailed analysis, including these two intriguing points:

    This is certain: Special interest groups on both sides demanded there be no compromise, and now both Frist and Reid will be ducking for cover.

    Conservatives want changes on the federal bench after helping Republicans gain control of Congress and the White House. Liberals consider this a test of the party leadership’s mettle.

    So how did the other main political players in this high-stakes political drama react to the news that the finger is off the nuclear trigger?

    —Frist noted that he hadn’t been involved in this deal and that it has “some good news and it has some disappointing news and it will require careful monitoring.” Frists’s stock has gone up with conservatives now –but many centrists would rather not vote than vote for him. Watch polls on his democratic support. He has become an intensely polarizing figure.

    –Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada also saw it as a mixed bag, but added: “We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical right of the Republican party an undeniable message … the abuse of power will not be tolerated.” Reid has, if nothing else, come out of all this as a very tough political figure, nothing like the boooooooring politico many had predicted he would be. He is prone to verbal excess. Republicans can’t stand him…but then he’s not running for national office.

    –The White House, wiping egg off its face from Bush’s earlier pronouncement, plus news reports indicating the White House was quietly but firmly pressing for axing the filibuster said: “Many of these nominees have waited for quite some time to have an up-or-down vote and now they are going to get one. That’s progress,” press secretary Scott McClellan said. “We will continue working to push for up or down votes for all the nominees.” The White House has again shown itself as not interested in defusing crises but in accentuating polarization to activate its base. The WHITE HOUSE could have brokered this deal if it wanted; it DIDN’T.

    How polarized had it gotten? Both sides had arranged for screenings of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington to spin to their side (anyone who grew up on it knows that the GOP version of it is just that — plain SPIN)the 1939 classic about a citizen in the Senate who, in a big scene, uses the filibuster.

    Bottom line: Whether this holds up or not, and whether it’s a political cure or merely a political medicine that shoves the cancer into remission, it signifies one thing: the political center was NOT dead in the Senate and held just enough to keep the Senate the kind of institution it has been for years: one where parties will have to give and take a little to get things, not just get into a steamroller, aim the machine and drive over their foes.

    UPDATE: James Dobson is furious and promises revenge aimed at moderates in both parties at the polls:”We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.”

    UPDATE II: You can decide for YOURSELF it this is a solid agreement, weak agreement, favors the Demmies or the GOPers by reading the transcript here.

    But there are Other Voices on this issue (and many disagree with us). Here’s a cross section.

    –The always-lively site Crooks And Liars (commentary and great videos) notes that Republicans are very upset. C&R has VIDEO HERE of an unhappy Frist plus a round up (we are doing our roundup now so keep reading and check back!).

    Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit:”As I’ve said before, I’d probably care more about this issue if Bush looked likely to appoint some small-government libertarian types to the bench. Since he doesn’t, I don’t.”

    Michelle Malkin has an extensive roundup that’s growing as we write this.

    Scared Monkeys has a big roundup with this headline:COMPROMISE REACHED! REPUBLICANS SCREWED!

    –Daily Kos has several interesting posts. The most succinct is one of the first:”It’s not a good day to be Bill Frist. He looks weak, unable to control his own caucus. His winger friends go ballistic. They get some judges, sure, but ultimately, we can filibuster Bush’s next Supreme Court nominee unless he picks a moderate. The Dobson power grab may have failed a day early.” Also see posts here, here and here.

    Mark Tapscott:”I said months ago that Senate GOPers are terrified of offending Senate Democrats. Now we will see the Senate GOP leadership desperately searching for a way to share in the glory that even as this post is being written is being prepared by the MSM to shower upon Senate “moderates” of both parties who “saved” the Senate and the federal judiciary from the Extreme Right and the Evangelical Christian Theocracy.”

    –Professor Steve Bainbridge:

    No word yet on what “extraordinary circumstances” means, but I think this is probably a good outcome. Since I don’t believe that the GOP will control both the White House and the Senate for the rest of time, I’m glad to see the filibuster preserved as an option. There may come a day when conservatives need that tool. Plus which, once you abolish the filibuster as to judges, it becomes easy to do so as to all Presidential nominees, and then as to all legislation. At the same time, however, the Democrats’ obstructionism really had gotten out of hand. If threatening to abolish the filibuster blew out the logjam, well done.

    Protein Wisdom:

    There you go. A group of Senate “moderates� have essentially wrested power from the executive branch and given it to the legislative branch in something of a constitutional coup.

    Give that McCain-Feingold was able essentially to destroy the First Amendment (oh, the repurcussions are just starting, trust me; and to this day I stand agog at the SCOTUS ruling that upheld that piece of shit), John McCain could go down in history as the most important legislator in US history. Ever. As in, historians will be talking about him like they do Hamilton—only, y’know, from a coffee shop inside a country that looks more like something from western Europe.

    Jeff Jarvis:”: So the filibuster meltdown option is avoided. And a good thing it is. I don’t think the peopel would have tolerated political war and a congressional shutdown. Powerline is despondent; Hugh Hewitt is wondering whether to be depressed but the gray mood is bipartisan: Avedon at Atrios doesn’t like it. Kos calls it limited victory. I call avoiding stupidity victory, myself. I call moderation virtue.”

    Tom Watson has a MUST READ. Watson, a former newspaper editor, writes some of the very best stuff on the web. Read his whole post Frist Fades To Black. It has some excellent analysis (with “bullets” to highlight the specific points) He even forsees a split in the GOP. Here’s a small taste of the lead in to that in this required reading (for political junkies of both sides) post that could be an op-ed piece:

    Tonite, the freepers lost – big-time. And they know it. To their credit, there’s no sugar-coating on FreeRepublic tonight. The pols they despise even more than Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, the moderate Republicans, are the big winners. It galls to freepers to recognize that the likes of John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Susan Collins, John Warner, and Olympia Snowe cleaned their clock.

    The Political Teen has (as usual) a GREAT piece of video on the deal, some links, and he asks this:”Bottom Line: GOP lost their balls, who defines “extraordinary situationsâ€??

    The Yellow Line:

    This is a huge win for Centrists and for the rule of reason over partisanship….This is pretty much the deal we’ve been hearing about for several weeks….These 14 Senators will almost certainly suffer the ire of their parties and particularly the anger of interest groups who’ve been pushing hard to avoid any type of compromise. While not all the Senators signing on can be considered Centrists (Byrd comes to mind), make no mistake that this is a victory for the Center.

    We can only hope that we see Centrists from both parties joining forces more often to temper the kind of partisan irrationality that almost sent the Senate into a “nuclear winter.� Even if we don’t, at least we can say right here, today, sanity actually prevailed.

    Charging RINO:

    This deal isn’t 100% good for every single senator, or for either political party. It is good, however, for the Senate as an institution. It is good, however, for the American people, and it is good for centrism. These fourteen senators did what all of the pundits were saying couldn’t be done – they joined together, they worked hard, and they reached an agreement.

    We will hear much squealing from special interests on both the left and the right in the coming days. The fourteen senators involved in this compromise will be vilified, Republicans by the “Justice Sunday” crowd, and Democrats by the PFAW folks and others. But there can be no mistake – averting the nuclear option is a good thing. Bipartisan compromise and agreement is a good thing.

    Justin Delabar (an independent-thinking co-blogger on this site):

    Extreme circumstances? That’s rather vague, and the last thing radical religious conservatives wanted to hear at this point. Sure, Owen will eventually get her post, but this was never about her or any of the other remaining Bush-proposed appellate judicial nominees. It’s always been about the looming Supreme Court battle, and in that regard the Democrats have emerged victorious here. The filibuster lives on, and in the end America wins. Well, unless one’s a member of the extreme right or Frist himself, who in the shadow of all this looks completely powerless, but given time even their opinion on the usefulness of the filibuster will change when the majority is once again in the minority.

    Perhaps Congress can now focus on passing needed legislation, like the impending stem cell research bill and overriding the guaranteed veto, instead of continuing this absurd game.

    Blogs for Bush has some live blogging that contains this comment in big letters THIS DEAL SUCKS… EVERY NOMINEE DESERVES AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE!!!

    Robert Tagorda has his usual thoughtful post at Outside the Beltway. And it MUST be read in full. But here’s a small part 4 U:

    Hopefully, this issue can stay away for a while. I was among the very many Americans who could have cared less about the bickering…..Of course, Senator McCain seems poised to reap most of the benefits….Unfortunately for him, the next presidential election is still four years away. Only a small number of Americans will remember this episode then, and primary voters, who represent the biggest hump to his political aspirations, will give him few — if any — points for the moderate gesture. But at least he gets to overshadow Bush and Frist for a couple of press conferences.

    Mahablog:”It’s amazing what can happen in a few hours when you aren’t watching the news. I see that Bill Frist planned a pajama party for all his Senate buddies. But now that there may be a deal to compromise on the filibuster, does this mean poor Bill will be have to watch all those rented zombie videos by himself?”

    Newshog:” I smell a self-serving rat. Am I the only cynic who doesn’t believe in holywood last-second reprieves? The problem is not solved, only delayed – which allows both parties to continue milking it for all it is worth among the faithful while the rest of the country looks on, hopeless and depressed by the games.”

    All Spin Zone:”I don’t like any “dealâ€?, because Senate Republicans have shown themselves to be less than honorable time and time again. To use a “Peanutsâ€? analogy, it’s like Republican Lucy VanPelt holding the football for Democrat Charlie Brown. You just know Lucy’s going to yank that sucker off the turf when Charlie Brown has his leg into it at full speed.”

    The Glittering Eye wonders why Republicans are so upset about a deal:

    Isn’t getting some of Bush’s appellate court nominees through the gauntlet better than having all of them stalled until the midterms? Or dumping the filibuster entirely? Let’s face it, distinguishing between filibustering judicial nominees and filibustering legislation is sophistry. If the nominee filibuster is discarded, the legislative filibuster will only last until its first use. Folks, there’s no such thing as a permanent majority. Carpe diem! Can someone explain to me why this isn’t a prudent move for Republicans?

    The Debate Link has some great links — and great analysis. Here’s a small part of a post you need to read in full. He notes Kevin Drum’s speculation that there might be some kind of secret agreement for one of the nominees to go down to bipartisan defeat and writes:

    Assuming that happens (big assumption), I revise my earlier assessment: Frist is cooked. I already can tell you how the spin war will break: Republicans will say its proof that the Senate can reject out-of-the-mainstream candidates without resorting the filibuster; Democrats will say that it proves that the judges really were extreme and thus justifies their fight. The reason Democrats will win is that Republicans can’t get too heartedly behind their own position: their entire PR campaign has been saying that these people are exactly the type of reasonable judges that need to be confirmed. Dobson and Company will not be pleased to watch one of these people go down in flames–and will be even less pleased to hear Republicans claiming that, yes, whoever it was really WAS too extreme for the bench.

    –Americablog has a series of posts. One of them has this:

    Today, George Bush told the Senate he wanted all of his nominees to get an up or down vote. Today, the US Senate said no to that. The right wing, from Weyrich to Perkins and Dobson all said, no compromise. Well, there is a compromise. They did not prevail for a change. GOP Senators actually stood up to the theocrats.

    The little puppet doctor, Bill Frist, looks hapless. He wanted to end judicial filibusters. That did not happen. Frist does not control the Senate. And, he let down the theocrats. This is not good for his political aspirations.

    Will there be some judges appointed who we despise. Yes. But, in the long run, this forces the White House to think differently about the Supreme Court. That seemed to be the message from the gang of 14, most notably Lindsay Graham who said as much during the press conference.

    –From the always fun-to-read and well-written Bogus Gold from our Right Voices column (read it in full; this is only a small part):

    For the love of… I can’t even take an afternoon off without Bill Frist fumbling his job in the Senate leadership anymore?…Hard to get specifics at the moment, but it sounds like Frist couldn’t get enough Republican Senators to support the position he’s been working at for several months….It’s like Neville Chamberlain in 1938 insisting his negotiated agreement secured “Peace in our time.” ….But if it’s what I described above, Frist can set aside any presidential aspirations. And the Republican Senators who broke ranks are going to be staggered by the reaction of the party base toward them.

    Attaturk at Atrios:”So I’ve been doing my laundry, anything exciting happen? I love a good scrap as much as the next person. Since I write under a pseudonym you know I’m being truthful. I know that quite a number of people here are upset with the compromise, but be advised that the tenor of the Busheviks is far more rabid (go figure).”

    Dave Pell:

    This was at least a tiny blow against the extremism that has increased its hold on both parties (let’s keep that momentum going). It was also a blow to the leadership of both parties. Harry Reid got with the program and described the deal as “a significant victory for our country. Bill Frist, though, explained: “It has some good news and it has some disappointing news.” The good news is for the Senate and the country. The disappointing news is all related to Frist’s 2008 presidential ambitions

    Ron Beasley:

    This is a sad day as 7 Democrats have just sold progessives out once again. The Democrats gained nothing. The “extraordinary circumstances” is now defined as someone worse than Priscilla Owen. I’m going to be sick. The wingnuts at FOX are gloating already.

    Crooks and Liars reports that the Freepers are really upset and Frist is unhappy. Well I like it when Freepers are upset and Frist is unhappy so that’s a little bit of good news. Also via C&L there may have been a secret deal within the deal that one of the three to get a vote, Brown, Owen, and Pryor, won’t get a majority. I’m still sick but not as sick.

    Powerline’s John Hinderaker:”What a hideous deal! The Democrats have agreed to cloture on only three nominees, and they have made no commitment not to filibuster in the future, if there are “extraordinary circumstances.” Of course, the Dems think any nominee who is a Republican is “extraordinary.” The Dems have just wriggled off the hook on some of the nominees that, politically, some of them did not want to be seen voting against.”

    Dr. Steven Taylor:”As I hve long argued that the Democrats would have been better off to pick a couple of nominees to block, I have to say this is the right way to go. Filibusters should be used only for extreme circumstance.”

    Kevin Aylward:”As one news report put it, “they’ve done what the Senate does best, kicked the can down the road”… I expect the deal will fall apart when Democrats label the first Bush Supreme Court nominee an extraordinary circumstance…”

    Chris Bowers at My DD has an excellent extensive analysis (read it all) that includes this:

    Frist is extremely weakened, and as a result so is the Republican caucus in the Senate. By contrast, Republican defectors have been greatly strengthened, thus strengthening the Democratic caucus as an oppositional force. Further, the Republican grassroots are de-energized, and will be for some time. Still further, we blocked a majority of the bad nominees, and kept at least some hope alive of defeating terrible Supreme Court nominees. Even more of the ugly side of the Republican base has been revealed to the public. Republicans looked like they were ignoring issues of real importance. We managed to say “abuse of power” over the airwaves several thousand times. The Congressional polling situation is starting to look better and better….The more I think about it, I agree with the overwhelming majority of MyDDers–there is no way that this is not more of a victory than a defeat.

    –BUT Red State’s highly astute Mike Krempasky has a short but potent analysis. Read the whole thing. We’re quoting most of it — but you need to read it all:

    This is a bad deal, no question. It undermines Senator Bill Frist, Senator McConnell – and frankly, the entire Senate leadership.

    On the other hand – Democrats are surely screwed. They get their little scalps – Myers and Saad will not soon see the inside of an appellate court. But the Democrats have simply grabbed enough rope to hang themselves.

    Why? Because they’ve defined extraordinary – if not specifically, by who they’ve “allowed” on the courts to date – and when Chief Justice William Rehnquist retires on June 27th of this year – all President Bush need to do is select one of the 30-some odd appellate juddges confirmed since he took office and elevate him/her to the Supreme Court. In that case, the Democrats have completely surrendered any opportunity to block such a nominee on any grounds…..

    P.S. John McCain is dead to me.

    –Steven at The Poliburo Diktat thinks bloggers left/right rants are getting truly tiresome on this subject. He writes:

    I don’t mean to get all Rodney King-ish, but why must ALL commentary, from both politcal parties consist of “We won and they lost. Yay!” or “We lost and they won. Boo!” ??? Is that it? Has there been a new civil war? Do we now have the Red States of America locked in a twisted, hateful, unfortunate geographically-required embrace with the rival Blue States of America? Is that how it works? Is there no possibility that (whatever your views, or whoever might have gotten a 51% advantage), perhaps a compromise is a good idea, you know, strictly from a ‘civil war avoidance’ perspective?

    All the ranting and raving bloggers can go impale themselves on the anticipated spikes in their Sitemeters they hope to get from all their over-the-top rhetoric. Take a pill, guys.

    Kevin Drum raises a bunch of intriguing questions about the deal and wonders if there is a secret part of the deal as well.

    –Greg Prince at Uncorrelated has an analysis/round up. Part of what he writes:

    It is, of course, incalculably good that Frist and his fellow travelers have had their bad intentions derailed, at least for now. Does this weaken Frist’s bid for 2008? Probably. He’s had some pretty embarassing failures lately, and this is going to be viewed as an abject failure by the wingnuts. John McCain, on the other hand, perhaps has his hand strengthened going into 2008. He was, however, generous with his praise of fellow senators.

    –Right Wing News’ John Hawkins analyzes the deal and says on the face of it the arrangement should be something GOPers can live with. But, he writes:

    That being said, what does “extraordinary circumstances” mean exactly? Are we talking ethical problems? “Really conservative” nominees? Judges that liberal interest groups don’t like? We’re not being given a real answer. On top of that, why do I suspect that most conservatives will have a very different interpretation of “extraordinary circumstances” than Robert Byrd and company will?

    Furthermore, if this is such a great deal, why is it that no Republican in the Senate worth a bucket of warm spit actually signed on to it?///What it all comes down to is that you can’t trust the judgement of the Republicans who are involved and you can’t trust the Democrats involved to keep their word. Unless we get some assurances that this deal in essence means the end of partisan judicial filibusters, I’d prefer to have gone nuclear and lived with the fall-out.

    Josh Marshall doesn’t think this is such a good deal for the Democrats. Part of his long post:

    And finally there’s the key problem: the White House. Can this agreement really withstand the appointment of another hard right nominee? The subtext of the compromise must be that neither side will be pushed beyond its limits. But that would, I think, force the Democrats to resort to the filibuster. And then everything, presumably, would unravel from there. It’s hard for me to see how this deal survives the sort of appointee President Bush seems all but certain to appoint to the Supreme Court.

    Having said all that, the whole tenor of the Republican ultras on the Hill today is to demand unimpeded power, to push past conventions and limits, to go for everything. And here they got turned back….So this isn’t a pleasant compromise. But precisely because the Republicans — or their leading players — are absolutists in a way the Democrats are not, I think this compromise will batter them more than it will the minority party, which is after all a minority party which nonetheless managed to emerge from this having fought the stronger force to something like a draw.”

    MaxSpeak:”I see some email urging me to spin this as a victory for the Dems. Please eat me. I’m more interested in whether it is a victory for the Dems. The point of opposition is to obstruct outrageous legislation and appointments. As far as I can see, the Dems have failed to do this, in return for a vague commitment from the GOP to forego a procedural vote that they can always take in the future, in the event opinions differ on the meaning of “extraordinary.” Ultimately, it is a recasting of the absurd deal we had heard about before: you retain the right to filibuster as long as you don’t do so.”

    Persistance of Opinion has a deliciously blunt post. It notes the people now threatening to end the careers of those who were involved in the compromise:

    Now, I have to ask… where do these pin heads come from and how did they ever get into a position to become a wrecking ball to common sense? And no, the deal that was hammered out is not a perfect answer because there are too many built-in loopholes that depend solely on the good will and good intentions of politicians. (That in itself might be enough to elicit a few guffaws.) But it is still better than nothing and offers some small hope for those of us who believe that tinkering with the mechanism of democracy is just a bad idea, period….

    One final note though: This is obviously going to displease folks in the Whitehouse, no matter what spin is applied publicly. Senator McCain may have gotten some small measure of satisfaction from tweaking Dubya’s nose on this and certainly did nothing to hurt his own political stock with moderates. I don’t have much respect for the political animals that populate the Washington wildlife reserve but this guy has always been a class act! Way to go, John!

    Catfish N Cod looks at the GOP backlash and potential split in a detailed analysis with quotes and links adding:”In a battle between people who do trust each other and people who don’t, who do you think will win? The split between Red Koolaid drinkers and sober Republicans is widening. From a brief survey of reactions, it appears that Frist is the Koolaid drinkers’ Dobson-anointed candidate (in the Biblical sense!), while McCain is the sober moderate candidate.”

    Joust the Facts did some detailed, thought-provoking live blogging on the compromise, which it doesn’t find impressive or realistically long lasting. Read it in its entirety. A few tidbits 4 U:

    Any compromise that leaves in place the Senate Democrats ability to declare “extraordinary circumstances” and then filibuster in the future only delays an inevitable political confrontation….

    Obviously this heads off the confrontation tomorrow; whether that’s a good thing depends on what happens with the next appeals court or supreme court nominee….If a nominee is blocked for anything less than the ethical problems of, say, Abe Fortas then the centrist group will have some ‘splainin’ to do….Thank you, John McCain, for continuing to care so much about liberal media opinion and for continuing to suffer under the delusion that we’re going to allow a Napoleon-complexed strutting peacock like you to be our President.

    —-The Mighty Middle’s Michael Reynolds catches something that could portend yet another role for the Senate Moderates — and also notes that what happened is close to what his site called for more than a month ago. Read it in full, but here’s the gist:

    What I found most fascinating however was something said by Senator Lindsay… Graham (R-SC), in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Graham said we should look for Social Security legislation to come from the same Gang of Fourteen.

    Back on April 18, I put forward the idea of Political Free Agency. I suggested then that a bi-partisan moderate group of Senators could, by declaring themselves beyond party, wrest control of the Senate away from the wingnuts. This is not quite my suggestion brought to life, but it could prove to be close. You’ll want to judge the exact degree of my prophetic powers (it’s me and Jeremiah, baby) by reading the piece in full. Once again Political Free Agency. Now that I have solved the hypertext issue with this site I will be driving you people crazy with it.

    A MUST READ FROM BULL MOOSE which is allied to the Democratic Leadership Council and written by a former McCain staffer. READ IT IN FULL AS REQUIRED READING. Here is part:

    At long last, a group of legislators was able to put the interests of the country before those of the narrow ideological, partisan and special interests. While not perfect, the nuclear freeze was a noble achievement of patriotic statesman. An over-reaching majority was at least temporarily prevented from changing the Senate rules and trampling upon the rights of the minority. Call it the patriotic option….

    The Moose is particularly pleased that the Senator Frist was handed a humiliating loss. Yes, this deal only delays the day of reckoning, but it showed that he is not the leader of the Senate, but merely a hostage to his presidential ambitions….

    If the American people are searching for unifying leadership, they saw it in abundance in the action’s of the Moose’s old boss, Senator McCain. In a rare moment in recent political history, McCain was uniquely able to forge a bi-partisan group of Senators to put the nation first. It should be a model of how our representatives (or Presidents for that matter) should operate in the future.

    The Moose is not struck by irrational exuberance. Surely, Congress will soon return to its adolescent ways. The Bush Administration and their allies in the religious right will impose another divisive fight upon the country. But for one brief shining moment, our leaders acted as statesmen should during wartime.

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