Spent the evening reading all the blogs in my "Wonk" folder, and my provisional opinion about the Great Filibuster Compromise is this: I'm not a wonk, nor do I aspire to be one, nor will I accept wonkitude if thrust upon me.
Yeah, I'm glad there are wonks around when I need them, and I'm impressed by many and admire some, but even when I need them it can make me ill at ease to watch them in operation. It's a lot like watching a guy repair something that's too complicated for you to understand. You hope he'll fix the problem, but you know it's possible he's just gonna charge you to change the paradigm instead.
I've read people, left and right, people lots smarter than me, talking about the death of Bill Frist's political asperations. This ended Bill Frist's presidential hopes? Okay, nothing is impossible. Huey Lewis might make a big comeback. Wal-Mart might decide to pay its employees a living wage. James Dobson and Ralph Reed might very well name the next Republican nominee. But Bill Frist it ain't, and weren't never.
I'm also told I'm supposed to be happy that Dobson got himself a black eye. That's all well an' good, but it seems to me it's a lot worse that somebody like Dobson is in a position to get a black eye in the first place, especially when the issue is whether we should keep playing Calvinball until his side wins, or all set down to supper first. If a little schoolyard justice was all we needed we'd be doing fine. What our present situation calls for, though, is tar and feathers.
When I was in college my favorite professor introduced me to wargaming--historical simulations with cardboard counters played across huge maps. This was in the days when "computer" meant either a roomful of IBMs reading punchcards or something that went amok in the second feature at the drive-in, so you had to have actual friends to play. The maps were about the size of USGS topos, and sometimes there were two or three; the rules were fairly complicated and required lots of arguing about who could or couldn't do what when. It sometimes would take a couple hours just to set the thing up. Play and bong hits would commence around 2 pm Saturday and last until the Sunday morning church shows came on television, which was left on for that purpose. My live-in girlfriend actually left me over those games, at which point I learned a lesson more valuable than not relying on the Romanians to watch your flank at Stalingrad: there's such a thing as being a little too involved with the arcana of things.
Admittedly, I'm not just a "the glass is half empty" sort of guy, I'm a "plus there's a goddam lipstick smear left on the thing" type. I don't mean to minimize what the Nuclear Option meant. I just mean to point out that we find ourselves in a time when it could come up in the first place, and when you have to find a reason, and a cover story, for a majority of Senators to uphold the traditions of the Senate. It doesn't thrill me to know that I have more respect for those traditions than they do. It's not much cause for celebration when the cost is two or three more questionable ideologues added to the federal bench.
Sure there are wheels within wheels. The Nuclear Option was in no small measure an internecine fight the radicals lost. Yes, Frist saw himself in the Oval Office and he overreached, but it was his foolish decision to to pander to the religious nuts that doomed him, not the compromise. I'm not breaking out the hats and hooters over a black eye. When you smart boys figure out how to send 'em all to queer street let me know. I'll buy.