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Southwick: A Study In Failure

gavel.jpgIn reviewing the votes from cloture to passage on Southwick, the following three Senators voted for cloture, but not for the nominee:

Carper, Thomas R.- (D – DE)
Inouye, Daniel K.- (D – HI)
Salazar, Ken- (D – CO)

I’d like an explanation. And it had better not just be “comity” or “go along to get along” or “they promised to vote for our budget…only until the President vetoes it, that is” that put Southwick into a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.  Because that is not good enough.  Not by a long shot.

And while I’m at it, what in the hell was Ben Nelson of Nebraska doing cutting a deal on Southwick behind the scenes with Trent Lott?  And why is it that the Democratic leadership continues to get its ass kicked on whip counts and back-door deals by the GOP?

A hands-off posture by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and promises from key Republicans to help smooth the way for deals on outstanding appropriations bills appear to be the right recipe for the Senate confirmation this week of controversial appellate court nominee Leslie Southwick….

“The goal is to get up-or-down votes on judges,” Nelson said. “Also, it’s to set a spirit of compromise as we move through the appropriations process.”

Details were vague, but Senators and aides suggested that negotiations involve helping bring the White House to the table and avert vetoes on future appropriations bills. The deal also was designed to ensure that enough Republicans would vote with Democrats to block a possible filibuster of an omnibus spending package later this year — should Democrats decide to wrap the appropriations bills into one catchall measure.

Beyond the spending bills, Nelson and Lott appealed to Senators to keep the judicial process from falling into gridlock by supporting today’s procedural motion to bring Southwick’s confirmation to the floor for an up-or-down vote on the merits. That was the argument made in 2005 when both Nelson and Lott were involved in the creation of the bipartisan “Gang of 14,” which brokered a deal to stave off filibusters of stalled Bush administration judicial nominees except under “extraordinary circumstances.”

Those familiar with the bargaining on Southwick said Lott was at the heart of the discussions, but on Tuesday the Minority Whip offered little detail beyond acknowledging that Democratic support for Southwick likely would be returned in kind. He added that bipartisan cooperation on the confirmation could serve as the catalyst to stop the Senate from “continuing to spiral into partisan political bickering.”…

In case anyone is wondering, yes, I am peevish.   Because the Nelson quote at the end there truly is the most naive and idiotic thing I have heard all week — especially given the veto threats still looming out there for each and every budget question that still has to pass the House and Senate.  Comity my ass…

The cloture vote roll call is posted here.  Final vote roll call is posted here.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com