Paul Weyrich is thanking his lucky stars that Bill Frist never went nuclear. In a post at Human Events Online, Weyrich, the influential conservative activist, is impressed with the way GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is using the filibuster to hold the line on Iraq, and to frustrate the Democratic majority in general:
McConnell correctly stated that the House is geared toward the majority and the Senate is geared toward the minority. Sen. Reid was so frustrated after he failed to achieve cloture that he shouted at reporters that he was in charge of the Senate, not the Republicans. I've got big news for you, senator. That is not true. Shortly after the election I spoke with a veteran senator. He expressed the view of most of his colleagues. Better in the minority at 49, than the majority at 51.McConnell, says Weyrich, has won over conservative activists with his efforts to kill the Lobbying Reform Bill and the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation - and especially with his determination to win confirmation for 17 appellate court judges before the end of the Bush term. Now, having undermined the Iraq resolution, McConnell has reinvigorated his caucus. Ironically - but predictably - this was only possible thanks to the failure of Bill Frist in 2005 to amend Senate Rule 22 to end the filibuster on confirmation votes:
Analysts such as Mike Hammond, former Counsel to the Senate Steering Committee (the caucus of conservative Senators) argued that if Senate Rule 22 were amended for confirmation votes it well could carry over into the legislative arena and end the filibuster. Frist was hesitant and waited too long. Sen. John S. McCain (R.-Ariz.), who was no great friend of the majority leader, pulled the rug out from him by putting together the Gang of 14. Because of that move Rule 22 was preserved.A number of liberal observers, during the days of the Republican Senate majority, argued that Democrats should agree to abolish the filibuster altogether. I'm sympathetic to that argument, though it's moot now, and McConnell will use his minority protections ably to block the Democratic agenda. This is less bad now than it would be with a Democratic president in 2009, when we might otherwise have a chance to finally get something done.
If McConnell can pick up the kind of allies I witnessed his having harnessed, and if (and this is really the hard part) he and the GOP Leadership, which includes the just re-elected Sen. John Kyl (R.-Ariz.), can explain this in plain English so that ordinary folks can understand it, he just might stave off what could be a disastrous Senate election in 2008. It presently is looking as if the GOP will emerge with 46 votes but if the presidential election goes the wrong way and brings out a heavy liberal vote McConnell would end up with only 42 senators.Now that's a cheerful thought!