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Wednesday May 25, 2005
From Webster's Third Unabridged:
Compromise: A settlement � reached by mutual concessions; A reciprocal abatement of extreme demands or rights resulting in an agreement.
It is in the nature of a compromise that neither side gets everything it wants. If one side DOES get everything, they call it by a slightly different name: Victory. The other side calls it "surrender."
I am extremely disappointed that a compromise was reached in the Senate the other night in that I was hoping to have an entire summer of making fun of Democrats reading from the Manassas, Virginia phone directory and reciting the collected writings of Stan Lee. Or Stan Laurel. Or Maurice Stans. Or Maurice Cheeks.
The compromise was clearly more of a win for Senate Republicans than for Democrats because the Dems came into the battle vowing to filibuster any nominee they decreed to be just too, too Conservative - meaning all of them.
Of the four they pointed to as the most egregious examples of Conservative judicial activism, three are specifically named in the agreement as getting up-or-down votes. Making the Democrats eat the three of whom they liked the taste least seems to me a pretty good deal.
In fact, according to the AP's Ron Fournier's reporting, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said, "This deal is more of a capitulation than a compromise."
That's something slightly short of a Whoo Hoo! by the Left.
The GOP came into the fight vowing to get ups-or-downs on all of the nominees and - depending upon how you count - it looks as if they will get three out of five.
Even though what was at stake was dubbed by the Dems and their allies in the popular press as the "Nuclear Option," it had to do with utilizing parliamentary procedures to get an arcane interpretation on one part of a Senate rule.
According to the Historian of the Senate on the history of filibusters, the first mention of "cloture" occurred in 1841 when Henry Clay tried to shut off debate on a banking bill.
Because the nucleus wasn't discovered until 1911 by Ernest Rutherford, this was not called the "Nuclear Option."
The filibuster rule actually changed in 1917 when President Wilson (whose doctoral thesis was on Congressional activity) wrote:
The Senate of the United States is the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action.
Thereafter the filibuster rule was changed to allow cloture if two-thirds of the Senate agreed. There were only 48 States in 1917 so 64.3 votes - more or less - were needed.
Notwithstanding the filibuster rule having been changed, the Union stumbled along until 1975 when the Senate dropped the number of votes to invoke cloture from two-thirds to three-fifths (60 of the current 100 Senators; Alaska and Hawaii having joined the Union in 1959).
This was done to cut down on the ability of Southern Senators (nearly all Democrats, by the way) to filibuster against Civil Rights legislation.
This was not called the "Nuclear Option" either, even though both the US and the Soviet Union had The Bomb by then.
The real victors in all this are, of course, the interest groups on the far left and far right. They have plenty of grist for their fundraising mills.
"We must keep the fight alive!" The e-mails will say. "We cannot allow the opponents of our American system to have their way!" "We need your help NOW to protect our rights!"
The nice thing about writing political fund raising copy is you can use exactly the same words and phrases for either side.
Alas, a compromise was reached. The Republic was wrenched back from the precipice. And I have to find something else to write about.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Lots 'O Links: Explanations of the Lee, Laural, Stans, Cheeks line; a link to Rutherford and the nucleus; a link to the dates of States' admission to the Union, a Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.
Copyright © 2005 Richard A. Galen
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