Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Biggest Loser

I agree with The Carpetbagger, James Dobson is the biggest loser coming out of yesterday's deal on judicial nominees.

Dobson invested a huge amount of resources behind an uncompromising fight for the total elimination of the filibuster. Bill Frist signed on to his program in the hopes of getting Dobson's backing for the 2008 Republican nomination. But Frist is such a poor leader that he couldn't keep his moderates in line.

The result: Dobson got nothing that he wanted.

So where does Dobson go now? He can continue to insist that the Republicans refuse to compromise. He could insist that Frist push the other Bush nominees as another test case of the compromise. But he has already expended a huge amount of political capital on this fight. How many Republicans leaders want to go back into the trenches on this fight? How many of Dobson's followers want to go through the whole cycle of fundraising and phone calls all over again? How many of those followers will blame Dobson as much as Frist for this failure?

This could prove to be Dobson's Gettysburg. A monumental defeat in a battle that was supposed to be the crowing victory of his decades long movement.

There are some naysayers who argue that the Democrats are fools for thinking the Republicans won't push at the limits again. I don't say they won't. But I suspect many of them have lost the taste for this fight. They don't want to start it all over again. Certainly the Republicans who were part of this deal don't want to (otherwise they wouldn't have taken such a political risk in pushing for it in the first place).

Meanwhile, Democrats are at least acting elated at the results of this battle. If the trumpet sounds again I think they will be more willing than the Republicans to get back into the fight. The GOP has suffered a defeat. Do they want to risk another one? The Democrats have gotten a taste of victory. They probably wouldn't mind another trip through the food line.

Someone I know compared this to the battle of Midway. I hope the analogy holds true.


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