The latest on the filibuster front

The Senate is in recess this week, but there's no letting up on the battle over the judicial filibuster.

Published May 2, 2005 9:56PM (EDT)

The Senate is in recess this week, but there's no letting up on the battle over the judicial filibuster. On Monday, the right-wing Progress for America Voter Fund (which you may remember from its unusual pitch for privatizing Social Security) unveiled a fresh batch of ads that pressed moderate Republican senators to end the filibuster and confirm some of President Bush's most controversial hardline Appeals Court nominees. According to the Associated Press, the group plans to spend almost two million dollars placing its spots on Christian radio stations, and national and local television over the next two weeks.

On the left, People for the American Way immediately promised to spend a million dollars of its own to counter Progress for America's campaign, and reminded viewers that Progress for America attorney Ben Ginsberg was involved in last year's anti-Kerry campaign on behalf of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. "We're working with the masters of deception and distraction that brought us the Swift Boat smears," said People for the American Way president Ralph Neas. "We do not intend to let their ads go unanswered."

On Sunday, the Reverend Pat Robertson advertised his own answer to the filibuster question, continuing the right-wing's holy war on the judiciary in conversation with George Stephanopoulos of ABC's "This Week." American judges, he said, "are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together." So grave is the threat of so-called activist judges, he said, that terrorism pales in comparison. "I think we have controlled Al Qaeda," Robertson said. "Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

All the same, Robertson doesn't seem to have so much faith in the man at the forefront of the campaign to end the filibuster and railroad President Bush's nominees through the Senate. From the Terri Schiavo saga to "Justice Sunday", Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist has danced with the religious far right as much as anyone in the Party -- but apparently it's not enough. Asked about Sen. Frist's prospects for a White House run in 2008, Robertson wasn't feeling it. "I just don't see him as a future President," he said.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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