The Republic Stands! The Constitution Survives!

05/24/2005 01:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When a rump group of Senators from both parties produce a compromise from "the center," it could well be a recipe for a rancid stew that offends everyone. That's not the case in the showdown over the "nuclear option." This a clear victory for Democrats -- perhaps the party's most significant victory in the entire Bush era.

Though three far-right judges will make it on the bench, this is nothing more than the compromise Senator Harry Reid offered the Republicans weeks ago. At the 11th hour, the Republican leadership simply did not have the votes in the face of an American public that had seen through their power-hungry abuse of basic principles.

Two previous Presidents (Democrats, by the way) -- Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt -- became drunk with power at the beginning of their second terms and tried to pack the courts. Senators of their own parties turned on them and rejected their efforts. In both cases, their domestic agendas became stalled for much of the rest of their terms. Democrats need to make clear the historic proportions of George Bush's arrogance and willfulness.

This is an important victory for Democrats, but all it does it stem the tide of Republican abuses and the slide of their consolidation of power. In the weeks to come, Americans could well be willing to give Democrats a second look. If so, this is our chance to show we can be as strong and determined in advancing progress in the 21st century as we are when it comes to defending the achievements of the 18th.