David Brooks knows something you don't:
Bill Frist should have taken the deal.
Last week, the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, made an offer to head off a nuclear exchange over judicial nominations. Reid offered to allow votes on a few of the judges stuck in limbo if the Republicans would withdraw a few of the others.
But there was another part of the offer that hasn't been publicized. I've been reliably informed that Reid also vowed to prevent a filibuster on the next Supreme Court nominee. Reid said that if liberals tried to filibuster President Bush's pick, he'd come up with five or six Democratic votes to help Republicans close off debate. In other words, barring a scandal or some other exceptional circumstance, Reid would enable Bush's nominee to get a vote and probably be confirmed.
Brooks thinks Frist should've taken the deal. Hell, so do I. If Reid offered to unilaterally lay down arms no matter how crazy-insane Bush's nominees were, Frist should've jumped. If he could've effectively shepherded Roy Moore's long lost ideological twin through the confirmation process, any sins he committed in the filibuster fight of 2005 would've been long forgiven by the time 2008 rolled around. He would've gotten Dobson his dream nominee -- Amazing Grace, Frist was lost but now he's found.
So why didn't Frist take it? Did he believe Reid would screw him? Maybe, but he could've always gone nuclear if Reid broke his promise. Is Brooks being misinformed? Possible, though it's kinda odd for him to be misinformed in a way that makes the Republican majority leader look like an idiot. This column, frankly, makes no goddamn sense. Maybe Brooks believes that Reid looks like a tool of liberal interest groups for keeping such an eminently reasonable offer secret and Frist looks like a tool for rejecting it and thus the whole affair illustrates his point that both sides are too beholden to special interests, but it's not like Brooks to prioritize his column's argument above his party's image and make the opposition look good in the process, so that interpretation's out too.
So tell me, dear readers, what is going on here?