NUCLEAR BLUFFING. Dahlia Lithwick's ruminations on a possible revival of the nuclear option fight and the dangers this particular method of base-pandering could pose for the GOP are worth reading. Lithwick argues that the Bush administration wouldn't be able to appease its religious right base even if Senate Republicans pulled the nuclear trigger this fall, but that's probably thinking a step further than necessary. Republican electoral desperation aside, the political context for a new Senate push on the nuclear option doesn't seem close to being in place: weakness and disarray in the caucus, the record thus far of the Gang of 14 compromise (it's been highly favorable for the President and his nominees), and the real-if-still-slight possibility of a Democratic takeover in November all mitigate against a serious fight. If Republicans couldn't manage to go through with this a year ago, it's hard to fathom them accomplishing it now, particularly with Majority Leader Stumblebum still ostensibly in charge.