|The right is still fuming over the Senate fillibuster compromise, and if you didn't know Chuck Hagel was running for president, your proof is now officially in:
Monday's surprise deal left two of the party's most prominent potential 2008 candidates, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), on opposite sides of an ideological and strategic divide that is likely to widen as the party begins in earnest to hunt for a successor to Bush. Perhaps mindful of the power of social and religious conservatives, other GOP senators with presidential aspirations, including George Allen (Va.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.), condemned the deal.
The compromise forged by 14 Democratic and Republican senators represented a rare, if temporary, rebuff to religious and social conservatives. Their condemnations, whether from James Dobson's Focus on the Family, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh or conservative bloggers, were quick and strong. Dobson labeled it a "complete bailout and betrayal," and Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America, branded the GOP negotiators "seven dwarves" who had given Democrats the right to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.
"It's a rebuff of both the president, Senator Frist and the socially conservative base of the party by a handful of senators," said Gary L. Bauer, a former presidential candidate and president of American Values. "The heart of the Republican Party is as unhappy as I can recall."
Not to be left out, the VandenHeuvelians are spazzing out right along with the Freepers. John Nichols in The Nation had this unhappy take:
Thanks to the compromise agreement made possible by seven Democrats who collaborated with Republicans to end the Senate impasse over judicial nominations, Priscilla Owen will now join the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Four years of successful efforts by civil rights, women's rights, religious and consumer groups to prevent confirmation of the right-wing extremist were undone Wednesday, as the Senate voted 56-43 to confirm a nominee whose judicial activism on the Texas Supreme Court was so wreckless that another member of that court, Alberto Gonzalez, who now serves as the nation's attorney general, referred to her actions as "unconscionable."
The final vote broke along partisan lines. Fifty-five Republicans and one Democrat, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, voted to confirm Owen. Forty-two Democrats and one Independent, Vermont's Jim Jeffords, voted against confirmation. [Not sure he's got that right -- I think Byrd voted for and Chafee of RI voted nay...] Those numbers are significant because they show that Democrats had the 40 votes that were needed to sustain a filibuster against Owen.
That means that, had Democrats held firm and forced moderate Republicans to reject the unpopular "nuclear option" that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, was attempting to impose on the Senate, Owen might very well have been kept off the court.
A good point, but it's just as likely that if there had been no fillibuster at all, Owen would have been voted through a long time ago...