Neither side distinguishing itself on filibusters
May 12, 2005
When it comes to the filibuster, virtually all of Congress looks like a bunch of crumbums.
There’s not enough room in this limited space to explain the successful effort of Democrats in the Senate to block several of President Bush’s judicial nominees by using the filibuster. Anyone who wants an idea of what a filibuster is can rent “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and watch Jimmy Stewart.
We can say there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around on the issue on both sides.
Frustrated Republicans have proposed the so-called “nuclear option” designed to stop the Democrats’ ability to use the filibuster to block the president’s nominees.
Republicans never went through with using a filibuster to block President Clinton’s judicial nominees, not that they haven’t tried. When confronted with the fact that many of them voted for the option to use the filibuster to block Clinton nominees, their defense is the effort was either unsuccessful or unnecessary. That’s like a burglar claiming he’s innocent because he didn’t actually take anything.
Republicans have also said that every judicial nominee deserves a yes or no vote on the Senate floor. That standard apparently didn’t apply when Republicans – without having to use the filibuster – didn’t give more than 60 Clinton nominees the chance.
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Democrats, though, are not blameless and are just as hypocritical. While they never resorted to proposing a nuclear option, they were just as critical of the filibuster process when Clinton was president as Republicans are now.
And there are Republicans like John McCain and Lincoln Chaffee who haven’t been hypocritical on the issue. Both have never voted for a filibuster, and both say they will vote against the nuclear option.
There’s also Harry Reid, who’s among senators trying to strike a compromise in which four of President Bush’s previously denied nominees would be approved if the nuclear option is taken off the table.
But for most of the rest of them, one can only hope that voters use their own version of a nuclear option to send these hypocrites a message.