We may have just seen the greatest bluff in recent political history.
What if the Republicans didn't have the votes in the first place?
It's not outside the realm of possibility.
The nuclear option was a pretty serious step to take. I would think many Republican senators, even if they despised the Democrats' obstructionist tactics, would be pretty reluctant to make a radical, and decorum-damaging, change to the rules. There's a reason Trent Lott called it the nuclear option in the first place.
Are we really so sure that Snow, Collins, Voinovich, Chafee, and several others were on board, and would have gone through with it? Maybe they just talked a good game so that the Democrats would compromise. That's easier for me to believe than the idea that 50 or 51 senators would have gone through with the nuclear option.
I wouldn't want to play poker with Frist... or with the Gang of Seven. They may have just pulled off the bluff of a lifetime. They may have just turned an embarassing defeat into the confirmation of Owens, Brown, and Pryor, as well as more restraint in Democratic filibusters in the future.
Sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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