Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Bush enlists DeLay in final days of Bamboozlepalooza Tour. Is it double-or-nothing on phase-out? Or should we be looking at the president's airplane tickets for that Jack Abramoff Amex number?

'Nuclear Option' Bamboozlement detox all the rage in Capital!

First there was Chip Reid last night debamboozling on NBC Nightly News. Now we're hearing that the folks at NPR seem to have gone through a thorough de-bamboozlement program overnight and were telling it like is on this morning's shows.

We'll bring you more details when we get a transcript or a clip.

Eventually we're going to reach a cosmic tipping point (though I guess we won't know it at the time) when the number of anti-Tom DeLay websites will be greater than the number of days Tom DeLay has remaining as Majority Leader. Who knows? Perhaps we're already there.

For now, here's the latest: hammerthehammer.com.

The Washington Post and other news outlets tonight are reporting that Senate Democrats are hinting about a possible compromise on judges -- specifically, that they might cut a deal that would allow two or more of the seven filibustered judges to go through.

This in turn has caused splutters of outrage and bewilderment among some Democrats who believe Sens. Reid and Durbin are considering throwing in the towel just as it is becoming clear that voters overwhelmingly oppose what the Senate Republicans are trying to do.

But I'm not so sure.

Let me first stipulate that I know no more about any potential deal than what I've read in the papers this evening. And the devil is most certainly in the details.

A deal that would let most of the seven judges go through in exchange for assurances that would allow Senate Republicans to try to go nuclear again six months from now would be a disaster.

A deal that would allow perhaps the two least egregious judges to go through in exchange for taking the nuclear option off the table for good might not be a bad deal at all.

The key here is that there are many moving parts to this puzzle and it's key to understand each one of them.

First, this isn't just about these seven judges. It's about three and a half more years of judges President Bush still has yet to appoint. And even more, it's about one or more crucial Supreme Court nominations he'll get to make. The American judiciary will look very different in 2009 with the filibuster than without it. And letting through a couple judges now to secure that difference isn't necessarily such a bad deal.

Second, there are sometimes tactical advantages in appearing to be reasonable, even if the reasonable compromises you float are ones your political opponents will have a very hard time accepting.

And this brings us to the third and perhaps most important point. There's no way to judge the best way to approach this stand-off without seeing clearly just what a powder keg Bill Frist and company are sitting on.

If you think ending the filibuster is the 'nuclear option', just watch what happens when Bill Frist rings up James Dobson and says, "Sorry about the judge thing. The Democrats won't let us."

At that point you can start with the horizontal mushroom clouds coming out of Dobson's ears and it's pretty much a chain reaction through the rest of Wingnut Nation from there on.

That means two things. First, Frist probably just isn't in a position to accept the 'compromises' Democrats are floating. And I suspect they know that. Second, should he accept such a compromise, it will unleash something close to a civil war on the right flank of the Republican party -- a development with possibly grave consequences for Republicans in 2006 and thereafter.

So, to pull this all together, I'm not saying Democrats shouldn't keep up the pressure on their senators. They must. And any deal that doesn't put the nuclear option off the table in a permanent and meaningfully binding way is a joke. But let's remember what this is about. It's about whether the Democrats retain their significant lever of power to block President Bush's most extreme judicial nominees. Democrats give that up, they lose. Republicans give that up, they lose. It's really that simple. A couple judges passed through are a secondary matter. From having watched so far, I get the sense that Sen. Reid sees all those moving parts. So I'm inclined to give him the room for maneuver he needs to back these folks into a ghastly trap.

Agitprop and victim-vamping for the <$NoAd$> faithful.

This is a clip from an email sent out tonight by Townhall.com and an outfit called The Center for Individual Freedom (hysterical capitalization and emphasis in the original) ...

Majority Leader Bill Frist IS GOING TO PULL THE TRIGGER to end the blockade against President Bush’s judicial nominees, but the outcome is still in doubt.

In fact, high-level sources in the Senate are telling us that Majority Leader Frist will deploy the “Constituional Option” -- dubbed “nuclear” by the liberal media -- possibly within the NEXT FEW DAYS.

The liberal media, cat's-paw of the Trent Lott.

It's almost sad how these hucksters lie through their teeth to their own followers just to juice them up into ever higher and wider gyres of wingnut paranoia and congested rage.

Straight outta Springfield!

Sen. Durbin serves up the counter-bamboozle smackdown to Sen. Kyl on the Newshour (emphasis added) ...

GWEN IFILL: Does Sen. Frist have the votes in order to force this nuclear option?

SEN. JOHN KYL: Well, I'm not going to characterize it as a nuclear option. That's what the opponent....

GWEN IFILL: Or a constitutional option. Whatever term we're using today.

SEN. JOHN KYL: It is a constitutional option because the Senate has the right to provide its own precedents. That's what would be done. I won't predict vote, but I don't think we'd go forward unless we thought we had the votes.

GWEN IFILL: How about that. Sen. Durbin, what's your nose count these days?

SEN. DICK DURBIN: Well, I can tell you it's very close; it's down to one or two Republican senators. And they understand the basics. First, this term nuclear option was coined by Trent Lott, a Republican. It's not a Democratic way to try to color this debate.

No wonder we like that guy so <$NoAd$> much!

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader DJW for the tip.)

Did you see NBC Nightly News tonight?

TPM Reader KM says Chip Reid may have gotten himself debamboozled in time for the evening telecast.

But he was so deeply bamboozled this morning on the 'nuclear option' that we want confirmation.

Let us know what you hear.

You think SpongeBob had it bad? What do you think James Dobson will do to Bill Frist if Frist doesn't go nuclear?

Birds of a feather fly together.

This from Reuters: "In a show of support, President Bush will give embattled House of Representatives Republican leader Tom DeLay an Air Force One ride to Washington from Texas on Tuesday, a White House spokesman said."