FRIST AND FILIBUSTER….The Carpetbagger suspects that Bill Frist is still a vote or two shy of victory in his effort to eliminate judicial filibusters by fiat:

If Frist brings the nuclear option to the floor and fails, his ability to lead is effectively over. He?ll have taken on the biggest risk for a Senate Majority Leader in recent history and, despite 55 Republican lawmakers in his caucus and the enthusiastic rabid support of the party base, Frist will have failed spectacularly. He?s already a lame-duck leader, but if the nuclear-option strategy falls apart, Frist may have to give up his leadership post.

Frist also can?t stall; the GOP base has told him in no uncertain terms that it?s now or never.

What about the possible six-by-six compromise, you ask? That, too, would be a disaster for Frist, not only because it would represent the failure of his nuclear-option strategy, but also because it would circumvent him altogether. The buzz is the deal isn?t going to happen anyway, but if it does, it?s the worst of all worlds for Frist ? the filibuster rule remains in tact, nominees get left behind, and his leadership looks inept. (I?m opposed to the six-by-six deal, but the humiliation it would bring Frist makes it look a little better in my eyes.)

A lot of people forget this, but Bill Frist was, at first, a nuclear-option skeptic. Until last July, Frist didn?t think the plan would work and worried about the effect it would have on the Senate?s ability to function. Then he became Majority Leader, followed by the decision to run for president, followed by the realization that he had to keep the far-right happy. It?s been downhill for the guy ever since.

That sounds about right to me. This is high stakes poker for Frist, and who knows? In the end, it might come down to one or two senators who wouldn’t mind derailing his presidential ambitions. They won’t say that’s their reason for voting against the nuclear option, but it’s surely swirling around in the background.

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