The Corner

The one and only.

The Republicans Blink


I’m concerned about the Senate Republicans’ shift in strategy on the Estrada nomination. They’re going to make Democrats go on record again and again in opposition to giving Estrada a floor vote. They think it’s going to get harder and harder for the Democrats to refuse that vote. The longer they hold out, the more obstructionist they’ll look. But I think it could work the other way: It could get easier and easier for Democrats to vote against having an up-or-down vote. Every vote after the first one will be justified as the maintenance of the senator’s existing position. In fact, given that people don’t pay a lot of attention to these kinds of political disputes and know little about Senate rules, the Democrats could actually get away with claiming that they voted on Estrada and he didn’t have the requisite suport. (When in fact they would have voted on whether to vote on Estrada, with an artificially high 60-vote requirement.) Republicans will not be able to capitalize on the perception that Democrats are not allowing a vote. And even if the Republicans “win,” they will have acquiesced in a 60-vote requirement for confirming judges. Is getting Estrada on the bench worth that concession?