Having given up their option of opposing three conservative appointments to federal appellate courts that were distasteful to them in exchange for reserving the filibuster in "extraordinary circumstances," the Democrats can wonder what they have really gained.
If the president now nominates another conservative to the Supreme Court who is equally distasteful to most Senate Democrats, the chances are they will try to reject that nominee on grounds that the "extraordinary circumstances" exist this time around.
And if that happens, all or most of the seven Republicans who joined an equal number of Democrats in the "Gang of 14" who entered the deal are likely to say the deal is off, and most of the Republicans will back the president's selection.
The Democrats, therefore, are already reduced to wishfully thinking that this conservative president will somehow back down on his promise to pick someone in the extreme right-wing mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
The seven Democrats had better hope the president names a chicken thief or a corporate extortionist. It may take someone of that ilk to enable them to slip from the straitjacket they so willingly strapped on in agreeing to the terms negotiated by the Gang of 14.
Meanwhile, in news that won't give comfort to many conservatives, the Times notes Bush's call for an end to the attacks on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
A senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because most staff members are not authorized to speak about the vacancy, said the push against Mr. Gonzales would not influence Mr. Bush's thinking. "He has talked at some considerable length about his view on who he thinks would be qualified to be a Supreme Court justice," the official said. "And he's going to make his decision in a deliberate manner."
The official added, "At the end of the day, the president is going to decide this based on those principles, not from any pressure from the groups."