Compromised Compromise

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This column was written by Terence Samuel.
The durability of the eleventh-hour deal that derailed the filibuster cataclysm in the Senate late Monday was called into question not just by opponents of both sides of the issue but also by -- as they say in combat -- facts on the ground.

The culture wars leave almost no room for compromise, and the culture wars dominate our politics these days.

After having pilloried them as out-of-the-mainstream and hostile to civil rights and workers' rights, Democrats agreed to accept three of the most conservative judges sent up for confirmation. Republicans, after saying this was a fight about principle, cut a deal that would jettison some of the judges. And they gave away their chance to set rules that could have changed the face of the federal judiciary.

The deal was anomalous, because it made both sides vulnerable to capitulation and hypocrisy. It was not long before those charges were leveled. But maybe the easiest way to gauge whether this was a compromise with real costs is to note that both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Reverend James Dobson's Focus on the Family decried the deal as a stinker and threatened to mobilize against it.

And it is those competing armies on the left and on the right that seem destined to run over this agreement like a semi over a caterpillar.

Add to that a clear sense that the GOP Senate leadership (which had the deal foisted on it) seems determined to blow it up at the earliest opportunity. After the agreement was reached, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist reminded everyone that he was not a part of the deal, and he reserved the right to resurrect the nuclear option at any point he feels necessary.

"I do not want to use the constitutional option, but bad faith and bad behavior during my tenure as majority leader will bring the Senate back to the point where all one hundred members will be asked to decide whether judicial nominees deserve a fair up-or-down vote."

The deal itself may come up for an up-or-down vote before long.