April 15, 2005

Where's the Beef?

When the Republican Party collectively begins having a nervous breakdown over the Democrats' filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees, and when they start threatening to use their "nuclear option" (which is the elimination of the filibuster for judicial nominees), many informed progressives are left thinking about that old fast food commercial. The old lady in the commercial humorously asks: "Where's the beef?" It's become a slogan for basically asking why we're making such a big deal out of nothing.

You see, what many people may not know when the Republicans start threatening to "go nuclear" is that, according to the White House itself, we're talking about only twenty-five pending nominees, only eleven of which are waiting to fill vacancies. Now, President Bush has made 225 judicial nominations -- having only twenty-five of these nominees delayed doesn't seem like such a big deal to me. Does he expect to be able to put whoever he wants in the court system without any opposition at all from the Senate? That's just not the way democracy works. The executive branch doesn't get to pack the judicial branch with ideological extremists without the legislative branch having any role in the process.

The question for the Republicans truly is: "Where's the beef?" Two hundred of President Bush's nominees have gone through. Twenty-five are pending. Only eleven of these are waiting to fill vacancies. Are we really supposed to be convinced that we should do away with the filibuster, a timeless tool in the American political system, because President Bush hasn't gotten his way on twenty-five of his nominations? If President Bush and his Republican Party are really so concerned about the eleven vacancies, and if the President really wants to be a "uniter, not a divider" (his words, not mine) -- then maybe he should consider withdrawing those eleven nominees and nominating men and women who are not ideological extremists. Until then, all of this frenzy over judicial nominees and "nuclear options" is just a lot of bread with nothing in the middle. Where's the beef, guys?