Like most freedom-loving people who like to see the "world's greatest deliberative body" actually doing some deliberating, I was relieved to learn yesterday evening of the compromise deal reached by a bipartisan group of 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans to end the embarrassing impasse in the Senate. For weeks now, the headlines have been dominated by the showdown in the Senate where Democrats have been threatening to use the filibuster to block controversial judicial appointments by President Bush. The Republicans responded with a threat to use the "nuclear option" whereby the minority party would be stripped of its power to filibuster.
The back-and-forth struggle had been going on with no end in sight, until the aforementioned group of moderates from either party decided to split with the entrenched leadership. The primary individuals responsible: on the Democrats' side, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Robert Byrd (D-WV); on the Republicans' side, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and John Warner (R-VA). Their honorable actions have received much praise for bringing some resolution, at least temporarily, to the deadlock.
One group that is decidedly not pleased with the outcome, however, is the hardline conservatives. The headline from the Washington Times read "7 Republicans abandon GOP on filibuster", an indicator of the widespread dissatisfaction on the right. Across the blogosphere and on talk-radio, I was very disappointed to see conservative commentators lambasting the Republicans who helped engineer the compromise deal. The PowerLine bloggers denounced the "hideous deal" in which "Senators like McCain...sold out their party." Rush Limbaugh today declared that McCain, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and the other Republicans involved can "forget about '08."
That last item, an unfortunately common sentiment among the embittered right, is a terrible blow to all of us who hope to see a moderate Republican emerge as the party's candidate for president in 2008. I know I'm not the only one who has been nursing a not-so-secret hope that John McCain, the most respected man in Washington, will take the mantel of leadership in his party. Hopefully, recent events have not endangered this possibility. In any case, it is sad to see that Republican ideologues, who like to talk about their "big tent" party, are in practice completely intolerant of deviance from their extremist positions.