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Thursday, July 07, 2005

No Deal

In the wake of Justice O'Connor's resignation, there's been a lot of talk about the Gang of 14 Deal to avert Republicans' nuclear strike on Senate rules.

The Washington Post can't seem to get enough of framing the nomination and confirmation process in this light.

And last night on Hardball, Andrea Mitchell blathered on ad nauseum about the deal (I'll link to the transcript when it's available). What made her fixation on the deal particularly absurd was that she was asking Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) whether a conservative Supreme Court nominee would constitute sufficiently "extraordinary circumstances" to justify a Democratic filibuster.

Earth to Andrea Mitchell: Sam Brownback was not a signatory to the Deal! He isn't one of the 14! He would have gladly voted to eliminate the filibuster! Asking him whether a filibuster is justified is like asking George Bush whether you should count all the votes! He's opposed! Regardless of the facts! Period!

It is odd how obsessed with The Deal many journalists seem to be. The Deal was very simply a way to kick the can down the road. At the time The Deal was signed, no one knew whether the nuclear strike would hit its target, or fizzle. Senators who signed it clearly preferred not to address the issue until absolutely necessary. And the SCOTUS nominee may make it necessary...but it may not. We just don't know, and we won't until the nomination is made, and possibly not until quite a bit later than that. But nothing about The Deal is binding: it isn't part of the Senate rules, and its language is so vague that no one should think The Deal matters right now. Individual Senators involved (and some others -- like Arlen Specter) will decide whether to keep up their part of The Deal -- by deciding for themselves which circumstances are extraordinary.

I'm not defending any particular prospective decision -- just pointing out something that is so obvious that many Washington journalists and editors seem to be unable to see it.


Blogger strategery4 said...

But don't you understand that this was a deal among centrists -- centrists I tell you -- to beat back the partisan pressures that are ruining . . . blah blah blah . . . [insert aphorism overheard by David Broder in a coffee shop in Palookaville, KY where real people get together to talk about real problems and just wish the politicians would get over the partisan bickering and come together to help solve those problems and then go out for a drink afterwards and make it easier for me to cover campaigns from coffee shops like the good old days . . . ]

What I find equally funny with the press reaction is how one minute they are treating The Deal like it's the fucking Declaration of Independence -- and wondering whether Bolton or the transportation bill or the flag burning amendment will undermine it -- and the next minute trying to get Senators to blow it up. Wasn't it the same Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press on Sunday who was trying to goad Leahy and Specter into drawing lines in the sand about who is and is not acceptable? Sometimes it just seems like they want to start the food fight and then opine about how terrible it is that there are no adults anymore to stop all these food fights (with no offense to any near and dear journalists).

7/07/2005 2:22 PM  

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