You've really gotta hand it to Harry Reid. He's really playing his cards right in the nucular option stand off. That, combined with Bill Frist really playing his cards wrong, leaves us in a pretty good strategic position. Here's what I see:
1) Good move on Reid's part to switch the focus from bringing the Senate to a halt in retaliation to trying to introduce positive legislation. Take a look at the list if you haven't. It's got some goodies, and making republicans oppose that stuff would be popular is great.
The worst republicans can say about putting these items on the agenda is that it goes against traditional Senate rules. And they can't really say that, because they will have just done the same thing if they invoke the nucular option
2) Though I think the idea of a compromise is a terrible one, it's good have some media coverage of it; because
3) Bill Frist has rejected the possibility of a compromise.
Now Frist looks unreasonable. It looks like Reid came to the table, tried to work things out in good faith, but Frist is being stubborn and partisan (more so after appearing on "Justice" Sunday this weekend). Indeed, people like me, Ezra, and Shakespeare's Sister all reacted negatively to the idea of a compromise. So it even looks, actually, like that Reid is going against one part of his own party towards the middle in looking for a compromise. He comes out of this situation looking reasonable.
Indeed, Karl Rove, adding his voice doesn't help either, and Sen. Schumer played it exactly how he should have:
Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, in an interview published today in USA Today, rejected a compromise with Senate Democrats on judicial nominees.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, called it "disconcerting and surprising'' to see an aide to Bush tell the Senate how to conduct business.
"Senator Reid has said publicly that the president told him that the White House would stay out of this,'' Schumer, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor today. "It's clearly not the case.''
Yo, republicans... whatever happened to your precious separation of powers?
Frist has been outflanked; even conservatives must realize that he's made bad strategic moves here. One conservative blogger is already calling for him to step down. So now he's being attacked from both the left and right.
And if the nuclear option fails, which it's looking like it will right now, Frist might loose some support of the far right. And that would sink any presidential ambitions he might have.
I don't know, it wouldn't surprise me if this gets nastier before it goes away, but right now I'm tentatively optimistic