From today's WaPo
As Democrats tell it, this week's compromise on judges was about much more than the federal courts. If President Bush and congressional allies had prevailed, they say, the balance of power would have been forever altered.The whole thing really is worth a read.
Yet, amid the partisan rhetoric, a little-noticed fact about modern politics has been lost: Republicans have already changed how the business of government gets done, in ways both profound and lasting.
The campaign to prevent the Senate filibuster of the president's judicial nominations was simply the latest and most public example of similar transformations in Congress and the executive branch stretching back a decade. The common theme is to consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda.
House Republicans, for instance, discarded the seniority system and limited the independence and prerogatives of committee chairmen. The result is a chamber effectively run by a handful of GOP leaders. At the White House, Bush has tightened the reins on Cabinet members, centralizing the most important decisions among a tight group of West Wing loyalists. With the strong encouragement of Vice President Cheney, he has also moved to expand the amount of executive branch information that can be legally shielded from Congress, the courts and the public.