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January 5, 2005

Frist fires a shot across the Dems' bow

Given Senate Democrats' shameful behavior regarding judicial nominations in the last session, it's understandable that some GOP senators had been pressing Senate majority leader Bill Frist to "go nuclear" -- initiate a rules change that would prohibit filibustering judicial nominees -- on the first day of the new session. Frist ended up showing more restraint than I might have, but I can see the wisdom in what he did.

In the session's opening speech, Frist explicitly outlined the inappropriate behavior of the Senate Dems. This was a step up from the no-confrontation approach of the last session.

He didn't stop there, though. In light of the fact that the Dems had a new leader (Reid), he was willing to believe for the time being that they are ready to turn over a new leaf. He would not invoke the rules change at this time, but he reserves the option of doing so if the Dems refuse to change their ways. This is an explicit threat that goes far beyond the milquetoast grumbling we saw before.

Frist is not, as Human Events claims, caving in to the Democrats.

Not yet, at least. By issuing this very public warning, the Republicans will likely have public opinion more solidly behind them when the Dems resume their mischief (as they almost certainly will).

But, just as Frist reserves the right to reassess his decision in light of ensuing events, so do I reserve the right to reassess my opinion that trace amounts of backbone may be appearing in the Senate GOP leadership.

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