Josh Marshall has been all over the Republican effort to pretend that the phrase "nuclear option" is a Democratic talking point. The latest offender is that scourage of stray cats, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist:
"I don't think it's radical to ask senators to vote," Dr. Frist said. "Now if Senator Reid continues to obstruct the process, we will consider what opponents call the 'nuclear option.' Only in the United States Senate could it be considered a devastating option to allow a vote. Most places call that democracy."
Ironically enough, Republican Senator Arlen Specter then calls it the "nuclear option" in the same article (as well as the "constitutional nuclear option," which is a mess on the scale of Tim Russert's "private personal accounts"):
"I think it is really necessary for Democrats not to follow a straight party line on voting for filibusters and Republicans not to follow a straight party line on voting for the so-called constitutional nuclear option," he said on CNN. "I think, if we voted our consciences, we wouldn't have filibusters, and we wouldn't have a nuclear option."
And as I pointed out a few weeks ago, Republican Senator Trent Lott is credited with originating the description of the tactic as "nuclear" by Bill Safire himself, though Lott tried to dodge credit for it:
In March 2003, the Mississippi Republican Trent Lott was troubled by the Democrats' use of the threat of a filibuster, or Senate-stopping "extended debate," which prevented a vote on some of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees. Charles Hurt of The Washington Times wrote that Lott told him of a plan that might allow Republicans to confirm a judge with a simple 51-vote majority - rather than the 60 votes needed under the rules to "break" a filibuster. Lott "declined to elaborate, warning that his idea is 'nuclear."' This led Michael Crowley of The New Republic to ask rhetorically: "What might Lott's 'nuclear' option be?"
...Those in the minority think of the filibuster as a barrier to the tyranny of the majority; those in the majority think of it as a subversion of democracy's majority rule. I asked Lott if he was indeed the coiner of this year's most radioactive phrase, and he demurred: "I don't recall being the first to use the word 'nuclear.' I prefer calling it the constitutional option. The other side is acting like we're going to blow the place up."
This is all in Google; will the press really fall for this sort of obvious mau-mau campaign?