In tap dancing, the “shuffle” is a distinct movement — brush one foot forward and back then stomp down hard. In the maneuver, timing is everything and experts have to practice until the syncopated rhythm and intricate movements become second nature. The total effect is enhanced when the dancers add “body English” — swinging slightly stiffened arms out for greater control.
Fourteen members of the United States Senate, seven from each party, gave a dazzling performance this week of the Senatorial Shuffle — a special tap dance unique to the Hill.
With their mastery of all the intricate movements down flat, the special 14-member team shuffled forward to kick aside the Constitution. With one sweep of their arms, they slapped the judicial system and showed disdain — not just for their colleagues and 214 years of Senate tradition, but also for the remaining nominees, Sen. Frist and the President. In a carefully syncopated movement, they stomped solidly on honor to preserve their option to filibuster the President’s nominees to the Supreme Court.
Their intricate maneuvers included a small step backward – allowing a vote on three district court judges. The remaining nominees are all men; opposition to them will not carry the political cost that opposing women or minorities would entail. The team then whirled back to link arms as events move inexorably toward a Supreme Court vacancy when they will, once again, put on a show under “extraordinary circumstances” by filibustering the President’s nominees.
It is very clear that last week’s “Senatorial Shuffle” will not be the final performance: the seven Democrats would not have sacrificed the three demonized nominees for the lower courts for anything less than preserving their ability to launch a filibuster against the next Supreme Court nominee.
The Senatorial Shuffle leaves open many questions about judicial filibusters — including whether a nominee like Miguel Estrada will be filibustered. Estrada’s nomination produced seven filibusters — a circumstance that is truly extraordinary. Let’s hope that it remains an exception rather than the rule. Certainly, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who famously called the president a “loser,” will not be content to serve merely in an “advise and consent” role. Further, the self-serving, ego-boosting side-show successfully diverted attention from the basic problem: The Democrats are unwilling to allow a vote on any conservative nominee to the Supreme Court.
All the Shuffle team members are talking in hushed tones about mutual respect and preserving the Senate tradition of unanimous consent. They are praising their performance as “remarkable” and expressing their “pride” at what they have accomplished and the “horrors” that they have averted. Sen. John McCain (R-Colorado), on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, said the compromise was necessary “to save the Senate.” Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) was even more dramatic and claimed they kept the Senate “from being blown up.” The only people who should be worried, Sen. John Warner (R-Virginia), a master Senate Shuffler, said to Brit Hume in a Fox News interview, are the “people who can’t fully understand.”
Well, that includes a lot of Americans who find it difficult to see how 14 Senators can impose their will on the whole Senate and, thus, on the whole nation.
The bottom line that lots of folks refuse to grasp — or prefer to ignore — is that the whole performance was about control, especially keeping abortion-on-demand. NARAL immediately issued a press release flatly stating: “We are confident that a Supreme Court nominee who won’t even state a position on Roe v. Wade is the kind of extraordinary circumstance this deal envisions.”
But it is also evidence of a broader desire to control; the Shufflers are hinting that they will band together on other issues, like social security. In a New York Post article, Mark Goldblatt argued that, by declaring the President’s “extremist” nominees are “out of the mainstream,” the Liberals want to move the “mainstream” leftward.
The Shufflers are moving their rhetoric as fast as they move their shuffling feet, but that won’t change the fact that for the majority of Americans judicial activism is THE issue of the day. Mainstream Americans want judges who will adhere to the traditional role of the judicial branch, interpreting the Constitution fairly and impartially; they want “mainstream” judges who leave legislation to elected representatives in Congress.