Im not surprised by E.J. Dionnes overall argument. But this chunk is quite revealing:
Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, called an urgent meeting last week with leaders of civil rights, civil liberties, environmental and womens groups. His message: The Senate faces a nuclear winter that could engulf them.
What emerged at that meeting was an order of battle that could mark American politics for years. Reid told the participants that he had learned from friendly Republican senators that Bill Frist, the majority leader, intended to push forward with what has come to be known as the "nuclear option," a fiddling with Senate rules that would block filibusters of judicial nominees.
And Reid warned the groups that the Republican effort to curb the rights of the Senate minority would not stop with judges. If Frist won on judges, Reid predicted, Republicans would be emboldened to roll other legislation through on narrow majority votes.
Dionne says that minority "rights" are threatened; Id call them "interests." And the best--indeed, the truly constitutional--defense of those interests comes through the ballot box. If the Republicans overreach, if the interests they threaten are genuinely popular, then theyll pay at the polls in 2006 and thereafter. The Democratic "constitutionalists" are so accustomed to working around inconvenient, recalcitrant, backward-looking voting majorities that theyve forgotten the true basis of all constitutional government, the will of the people, expressed (to be sure) through the constitution (albeit not through the judges "policy preferences") but also through voting.
If the Democrats were so confident that the Republicans are playing a losing electoral hand, they wouldnt be hiding behind the judiciary and the "constitution" as much as they do.