Is Senate majority leader Bill Frist reading Patterico?
I wondered that when I read this AP report, which says Senate Republicans have a tentative strategy for employing the so-called “nuclear option” for eliminating filibusters of judicial nominees:
One senior Republican aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, outlined a complicated scenario likely to play out over as much as a week or two.
Initially, this aide said, Frist will inaugurate a lengthy period of debate over [Priscilla] Owen and [Janice Rogers] Brown without seeking a confirmation vote. After perhaps a few days, he intends to seek a test vote on one of the two women that Republicans hope will demonstrate majority support.
A “test vote” to “demonstrate majority support” sounds a lot like the “conventional warfare option” I proposed in November and elaborated on here.
In a nutshell, my idea is to force a vote on a non-binding resolution of support for a solid candidate like Priscilla Owen, who has been smeared by Democrats beholden to special interest groups. The vote would demonstrate concretely that the nominee(s) would win a floor vote. People following this controversy understand this, but I’m not sure that the public at large does. Together with robust debate about the candidate, such a vote would show Americans that this controversy is really about Democratic obstructionism of qualified candidates with majority support in the Senate.
It sounds like Republicans have taken up this suggestion, which they are dubbing a “test vote” — hardly the catchiest name, but then, Republicans are not masters of public relations. (More on that below.) Consistent with a suggestion I made in an update to my original post, the AP story says that the “test votes” will be treated as a potential precursor to the nuclear option:
If Democrats then refuse to allow a final yes or no vote, this aide said Frist is prepared to seek a parliamentary ruling to establish a new procedure to cover confirmation of all appeals court and Supreme Court nominees a fixed amount of time for debate followed by a vote, no filibuster permitted.
The fate of that proposal will determine which side prevails whether Bush’s nominees will be guaranteed a yes or no vote, or whether Democrats will retain the right to block them.
I am, of course, speaking with tongue in cheek when I suggest that Senate Republicans are reading this blog. If they truly were, then they would have read my post on how to successfully execute the P.R. component of this strategy. Republicans need to emphasize that they are initially considering options less extreme than the “nuclear option,” which is to be used only as a last resort. Also, Republicans have to explain to voters the reason that Democrats are filibustering to begin with: Democrats are scared to go on the record with their positions against qualified candidates, especially minorities and women.
I see no evidence that Republicans are pursuing either of my suggestions for winning the P.R. war. In fact, it doesn’t sound as though they’re planning on doing much with the “test vote,” which should be conducted with as much fanfare as possible.
So maybe Bill Frist isn’t reading this blog after all . . .