Bill Frist is setting up to use the nuclear option on Priscilla Owen, according to the Washington Times. The entire judicial nomination fight is an example of insider politics taking over real-world consideration - Democrats haven't paid for opposition to or obstruction of judicial nominees, largely because the nominees held back are in positions that have little to no direct relevance to most Americans' political understanding. They're not high-profile in a publicity sense, and after they're confirmed, they're about as likely to be seen on TV again as Cop Rock.
Frist, on the other hand, is playing really bad politics to attempt to score a much, much larger pragmatic victory - but this handful of judges isn't permanent, even if the appointments are lifelong, nor are they the sole determinant of federal interpretation of law. For what he gets, the seventh-grade-civics realization that Republicans just killed some old and not-really-understood portion of the government doesn't quite play well for them. Rather than highlight the dastardly deeds of the demonic Democrats, it's a great way to arouse the unfocused and uninformed ire of the body politic. To be blunt, the American people are never quite as dangerous as they are when they're angry about something that they don't really understand.
Choosing Priscilla Owen is, however, intelligent for two reasons. First, she's the only nominee that has the particular "well-qualified" rating from the ABA, and second, the fight's mainly over her abortion stance. Republicans love abortion battles, especially because there are so many ways to make up statistics about them, and it fundamentally alters the debate to her stance on abortion politics, rather than the "advise and consent" clause of the Constitution. If he can pull it off, the debate becomes about abortion law rather than Senate bylaws, and Owen likely gets through.
In other words, we're likely fucked.
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