No doubt you have already heard of the "nuclear option"... and perhaps like me you witnessed the debate over what the rhetoric means. For a while the Republicans, who had been using the term, stopped using it and chose to put it on the Democrats as extreme rhetoric.
Also, there was a lot of debate about what the term meant... was it nuclear because that's how big a "bomb" it is for the Republicans to drop? Or was it nuclear because of MAD, mutually assured destruction, i.e. the Democrats will have to launch their missiles, ala Senate Leader Reid's insistence that they will draw all but the most vital Senate business to a standstill?
I wonder what the Cabalists think of this rhetoric...
- is it spot on or is it over the top?
- is it about the Republican Maneuver, the Democratic Response it evokes, or both?
- is using a parliamentary maneuver breaking the rules? (see below for details on the maneuver)
Background: The "nuclear option" as it's called is a planned end run to remove the filibuster option for judicial nominations. Key details: the rule currently holds that Senators may keep speaking unless a motion for "cloture" is passed, this used to require 100%, iirc, then 66%, and was eventually reduced under Democratic leadership to just a 60% majority. To change this rule requires 2/3 vote in the Senate, as do all rule changes (the Senate sets it's own rules of debate). Rather than try that (there are not enough votes), Frist plans to ask the presiding officer (Cheney) for a ruling on the constitutionality of the filibuster, which he would rule unconstitutional... that ruling needs only 50 votes to be accepted, allowing the Senate Rule to be changed without a 2/3 vote. And that is the "nuclear option"...
See here for a more in depth description of the same thing