Bad if they do? Bad if they don't!
Will the Democrats, as David Broder suggests, come out on the wrong side if they follow through on Harry Reid's threats to stop Senate business if Frits invokes the nuclear option? Broder compares the current fight to the government shutdown in 1995 and says that Reid and the Democrats will be perceived as in the wrong like Newt Gingrich and the Republicans were back then. Will the Democrats pay a political price if they continue to obstruct Bush's judicial nominees?
Let's turn the question around: what kind of political price will the Democrats pay if they don't follow through on the threat? What kind of perception will they leave if they fold now and compromise on Bush's judges?
The answer is simple: they will simply confirm the public perception that Democrats are wimps who don't stand for anything.
I watched "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" last night with my family. Frank Capra's vision of America may seem hoky to some, but he understood what appeals to the public: people fighting for a cause, even a lost cause, on principle alone. Fights like the nuclear option, or the government shutdown of 1995, are won by those who most appear to be fighting for the principles of good government. Clinton stood in the path of a Republican effort to dismantle the social welfare state. Reid stands in the way of a Republican effort to dismantle procedures meant to protect us from the excesses of majority rule.
If the Democrats don't follow through in this current battle then it is the Republicans who will claim the mantle of fighting on principle. If the Democrats take Broder's advice, if they don't take the risk because of the politics, then they will be perceived as not taking the risk because of the politics.
Broder, as usual, is an idiot. It remains to be seen if the Democrats are idiotic enough to listen to an idiot.