09/21/2005 09:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Harry Reid Head Fakes Left

OK, another little missive from my out-of-the-loop position on my couch, just watching and reading and making my little guesses based on nothing more than my local understanding of how human matters unfold. I want to thank the people who responded so frankly to my last post but this is another case of how hard it is in bloggy email formats to convey tone. I was neither attacking nor supporting mainstream democratic leaders who won't stand up and take a position against the Iraq war in that post. I was just describing what I imagine to be the space of their decision-making.

So here we have another example. One day Harry Reid, who personally opposes abortion, comes out against Judge Roberts. He's been so moved by representatives from civil rights and women's rights groups who came to talk to him. And they reciprocate by celebrating his bold decision, fully understanding, I believe, what I'm saying now, in this post. Because notice: he also declines, as Senate Minority Leader, to make of Roberts the exceptional case that would justify a filibuster under the new Gang of 14 understanding that neutralized the "nuclear option," remember that?

Well, they do. All of them do. All the players remember that.

So the next day, Patrick Leahy, who has been the leading pain in the ass guy on the Judiciary Committee for Bush nominees, comes along and decides to vote for Roberts. Talk about a head fake! You think this is an accident of Senators voting their "personal conscience," you think these people aren't talking to each other? Please. This is a plan, organized spontaneously in the rush of busyness (think West Wing), but still a plan. They've now got the leader of their party against Roberts (but only individually) and their point man on the Judiciary Committee is for him. So all their options are open for the next round.

My point? These people are smart. They know what they're doing. They may lack, they do lack, anything remotely resembling a vision for justice on this threatened planet. But they're maneuvering 24/7. That's what they do. That's their job.