Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Uncommon Compromise

In a surprising turn of events in the United States Senate yesterday, the committee of centrists (or by other means Sen. Joe Leiberman, Sen. John McCain, and their cohorts) led an effort to reach a compromise in regard to the nuclear option, filibustering, and judicial nominees. The compromise essentially detailed that of the 7 nominees blocked or in attempt to block by the Democrats, 2 would withdraw their nomination and they would allow for a up-or-down vote on the remaining 5. This allows for the Democrats (and the Republicans too) to continue exercising the right to filibuster, but only under "extraordinary circumstances."

It is my opinion that the U.S. Senate merely dodged a bullet yesterday. When either Chief Justice Rehnquist dies or steps down, the fight will return. I also think that the remaining justices of the Supreme Court who may or may not be considering resigning will remain on the bench until President Bush's term is complete and a new executive sits behind the desk in the oval office with the power invested in him/her to nominate and appoint judicial nominees.

In amazement, this whole fight has been quite the learning experience. Through the speech of Robert Byrd I learned a great deal about the history of the senate, through the speeches of McCain and Leiberman I now understand the art of and importance of being a centrist in a two-party system, and I am beginning to gain a perspective on what the 2008 presidential election shall present. I have come to appreciate Harry Reid who I had previously (on the departure of Tom Daschle) criticized. I have been reminded of why in our senior assembly the year I graduated from high school promoted a statement of "Leiberman 2004." I have also grown to appreciate the Clinton administration. I understand the judicial aspects of those eight years. I have a renewed appreciation for several democratic senators, namely, Joe Biden, Patrick Leahy, and Ted Kennedy.

Like I said this is not the end of the road for this debate. I hope that the Bush administration has learned the lesson of this fight and that if and when it arises again they will be wise enough to dodge it by not proposing the idea of judicial nominees from the extreme right. I hope the senators have learned from the debate what a historical task is on their hands. As I believe it was Senator Biden said in yesterday's debate, history will judge the majority party for their irrational attempts. History, afterall, is the ultimate judge.

One last comment...Robert Byrd. I have always laughed and joked about Sen. Byrd (the longest serving senator currently in the senate) for his phonebook-reading, long stories with no known plot or purpose, and of course his previous involvement in the KKK. In this debate over the nuclear option I have grown to appreciate the knowldege, sincerity, and loyalty of Senator Byrd. Byrd, who was elected in 1958 and has at times receives 78% of the West Virginian vote, was born in 1917 (the same year as JFK if anyone was curious) and his only career has been in public service. He is dedicated. Of all the senators on their feet in debate, I think Byrd was the only senator debating for the sake of the senate as an institution. That is admirable.

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