Monday, April 18, 2005

More Nelson and Hagel Go Wild

by Kyle Michaelis
On the second big Senate vote coming up, there's been further intrigue from Nebraska's Senate delegation concerning the Republican Party's move to change Senate rules and end the filibustering of Judicial nominees. This is a clear attempt to pave the way for as radical a choice as Bush can make for appointment to the US Supreme Court. Senators Ben Nelson and Chuck Hagel have both checked in on the issue, and both are carefully treading the precarious line of bipartisanship.

A World-Herald article Sunday, gave some insight into Nelson's approach to this touchy situation, which includes, of course coming from Gentle Ben, a compromise proposal of his own:
Nelson is talking up an alternative in the worsening feud between Senate Republicans and Democrats over a handful of Bush-nominated judges blocked by Democratic filibusters....

"I decided to see if there would be something that would be considered less draconian, more palatable and passable. I'm offering it as a way out of what could be a very major crisis for the Senate," Nelson said in an interview.

For now, the Nebraska Democrat is in a lonely position - a centrist caucus of one - but he may not always be alone....

Under Nelson's proposal, once a nomination was received, the Senate Judiciary Committee would get 20 legislative days to hold a hearing, and then 20 more days to vote on it. If it failed to act, the nomination automatically would go to the full Senate with an unfavorable recommendation.

The Senate then would have 20 days to debate and vote on the nomination. If that failed to occur, any senator could call for 20 hours of debate followed by a yes-or-no vote....

Nelson, who opposes the nuclear option, worked with other Senate centrists on compromises that helped Bush win two major tax cuts in his first term.
Sure makes one proud to be a Nebraska Democrat when seeing Nelson "opposes" this horrendous Republican ploy. The only problem is that, from my reading, I don't see how Nelson's supposed compromise is substantially different from the Republican plan he opposes. The way the World-Herald describes it, it would have the exact same effect putting every nominee to a vote without the possibility of filibuster. At least, that's how it reads, unless the World-Herald's reporting was poor or I've suddently gone daft.

Meanwhile, the AP checks in with Sen. Hagel, ever the one to maximize his personal exposure by taking both sides or none at all:
A second Republican who has been on the fence, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, said, "I've said to both sides, don't include me in your count right now...."

About a half-dozen GOP senators either have said they oppose or have refused to support changing the rules. Democrats blocked confirmation on 10 of the president's first-term judicial nominees while confirming 204. The president has renominated seven of the 10, and Democrats have again threatened to employ filibusters to prevent them from coming to a final vote.

Republicans are stepping up efforts to win over wavering lawmakers. [Sen. Majority Leader Bill] Frist plans to offer a brief videotaped speech at a rally on April 24 organized by the conservative Family Research Council. A flier for the event says "the filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and now it is being used against people of faith."

While not criticizing Frist's planned speech to the group, Hagel on CNN's "Late Edition" said, "When we talk religion and government, neither should become an instrument for the other. And I see drifting here in different directions that are, I don't think, healthy for our country."
So, basically, we have no idea in which direction Hagel is leaning, though his prior history suggests he'll side with the Republicans unwaveringly if this ever comes to a vote. But hey, at least he shows evidence of some meager understanding of how ludicous it is to say these 10 filibusters are being used to discriminate against Christians. Yeah, if 90% of the 200+ confirmed judges don't consider themselves Christian. Who are they kidding exploiting voters' faith and God's name in such despicable fashion?

Seriously, where do the perversions of the truth stop with these far-right fringe characters who are pulling Frist and President Bush's strings? How wonderful it would be if Hagel, in a fit of decency, would truly stand up to them rather than hinting as he does, "I know what you're up to and I'll allow it so long as you consider me for President in 2008."

You know what's worse than the devil that you know? The devil that knows better.Too bad Hagel is too busy looking for ways to sell-out rather leading as he seems capable of doing. At least Nelson's no sell-out, no matter what people say of him. He's just Ben Nelson.


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