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May 28, 2005
How Democrats Define Comity

The AP's David Espo gets behind the scenes in the hours after the announcement of the compromise on judicial confirmations that the Gang of 14 heralded as a new era of Senate comity. Far from an emergent period of truce and trust, Espo reports that Harry Reid and the Democrats immediately began planning the exploitation of the pact to their advantage even as the indulgent backslapping still echoed in the hallways:

The signatures of 14 Senate centrists, seven from each party, spilled across the last page of a hard-won compromise on President Bush's judicial nominees. But whatever elation the negotiators felt, the Senate's Democratic leader did not share it.

In the privacy of his Capitol office last Monday night, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked for commitments from six Democrats fresh from the talks. Would they pledge to support filibusters against Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes, two nominees not specifically covered by the pact with Republicans?

Some of the Democrats agreed. At least one, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, declined.

Details of Reid's attempt to kill the two nominations within minutes of the agreement, as well as other events during this tumultuous time, were obtained by The Associated Press in interviews with senators and aides in both parties. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing confidentiality pledges.

It didn't take more than a few minutes for Reid to read between the lines of the MOU to see how to exploit it. In that, one has to give him a tip of the hat; he instinctively knew what seven Republicans couldn't grasp with two hands and a map. It also tells us that the rest of Bush's nominees have no chance of making it to a floor vote, not without going back to the Byrd option.


UPDATE: Forgot to tip my hat to CQ reader Katy W for this one.

UPDATE II: Hard Starboard has some relevant thoughts, and a couple of updates. It seems the folks back home have made political life a little more comity-free for Lindsay Graham and Mike DeWine.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 28, 2005 2:32 PM

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