January 30, 2006

The Filly Buster Gets Busted!

Hatched by Dafydd

I believe the era of the judicial filbuster is at an end... without the "nuclear option" ever being put into effect.

Just a moment ago, the ballyhooed Democratic filibuster against popular Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito -- the man that Ted Kennedy, John F. Kerry, and now Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, and Hillary Clinton declared their number-one target to keep off the Court -- collapsed ignominiously, when the Democratic radicals could not even muster the forty-one votes necessary even to force the Republicans to whip out their "constitutional option," a Senate rules change to forbid filibusters of judicial nominees.

In fact, they could only get twenty-five votes against cloture.

Majority Leader Bill Frist believes he has the votes to push the constitutional option through... but it can only be done if the Democrats successfully prevent cloture. If they can't even do that, there is nothing to change the rules about.

This doesn't mean they can't be changed at the beginning of the next Congress (January, 2007); in fact, that might be a better time anyway, since no special procedures would be necessary: at the beginning of each Congress (or perhaps each legislative session -- I'm not entirely sure), the Senate (like the House) must vote to renew its own rules. At that time, changes made are simply voted on, requiring a mere majority and no special parliamentary rulings from the president of the Senate.

While I would much prefer seeing the constitutional option enacted -- and not just for judicial but for every appointment, as the argument against filibustering John Bolton is identical to the argument against filibustering Samuel Alito -- the reality is that if fear of the constitutional option makes it impossible for the Democrats to filibuster the latter, their number-one target, they won't be able to filibuster anyone else, either. After the extremity of the rhetoric against Alito, how do the Senate Democrats justify filibustering the next nominee for any level of federal judge, from district to Supreme Court? Do they say the next target is not just Hitler, he's Hitler squared?

But the real losers here are the formerly rational-sounding Democrats, such as Dianne Feinstein and (heh) Hillary Clinton, who allowed Kerry and Kennedy to twist their arms into publicly supporting the doomed filibuster. Does anyone think this won't be brought up again and again in 2008, when the latter is running a presidential campaign that will be as doomed as was this last, desperate lunge at the brass Alito?

It will also be brought up repeatedly in adverts this year -- and while Feinstein is unassailable, the more radical the Democratic Party makes itself, the more close votes will fall on the Republican side in numerous states:

  • Pennsylvania, where Republican Rick Santorum is strugling to hang onto his seat
  • Florida, where Democrat Bill Nelson hopes to stave off Katherine Harris and Mark Foley
  • Maryland, where an open Democratic seat is being challenged by rising-star Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele
  • Minnesota, where Evacuatin' Dayton is not running for reelection, and Republican Mark Kennedy is poised to give Minne-So-Cold a clean sweep among the top offices
  • Missouri, where Republican Jim Talent wants a full term
  • Montana, where Republican Conrad Burns was nearly unseated in 2000
  • North Dakota, where Democrat Kent Conrad, who thought he had dodged a bullet when Gov. John Hoeven decided not to run against him, might now find himself in danger again
  • Nebraska, where Democrat Ben Nelson is running for reelection in a state that went for Bush over Kerry by thirty points
  • New Jersey, where Jon Corzine's appointed successor, Robert Menendez, is up for his confirmation election against Tom Kean, jr, the son of the popular former governor
  • Ohio where Republican Mike DeWine was mentioned earlier as a target of the Democrats
  • Tennessee, where Bill Frist is stepping down, and the GOP has an open seat to defend
  • Washington, where Maria Cantwell knocked off Republican incumbent Slade Gorton in 2000 but is now in a desperate fight herself for reelection
  • West Virginia, where senile Democrat Robert Byrd is trying for his 74th term in the Senate

That this filibuster attempt works against the Democrats in the midterms in November is demonstrated by the fact that all five of the incumbent Democrats running for reelection in the above list voted for cloture, against the filibuster.

Why did they do it? Why were so many Democrats suckered into joining this foolish demonstration of their own radicalism? I can understand Patrick Leahy, who plays to the MoveOn/Soros crowd anyway... but Dianne Feinstein? She has never been seriously threatened in any of her reelection campaigns, and certainly there is no Republican with state-wide standing within California who can do so -- and the Cindy Sheehan "challenge" from the Left is simply ludicrous. Feinstein had nothing to gain and much to lose, in terms of her carefully built reputation as a moderate centrist -- in contrast to her wild-eyed colleague, Barbara Boxer.

And then of course... there's Hillary. For years, ever since at least 2002, Hillary Clinton has built a wall of moderation around her radical history, brick by careful brick. A wall that is now dashed to rubble around her feet, as she has thrown away any centrist image she might have generated among moderates and the Right by joining a filibuster against a nominee with 2-1 support among voters.

Nor will this gain her anything among the Sorosiacs: the fact that she has supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, both with her votes and, more important, her rhetoric, seals her fate with that crowd. If Cindy Sheehan thought she could get away with it, she would challenge Hillary Clinton as well as DiFi.

But that is the future; for right now, the fact is that Samuel Alito has just cleared the last procedural hurdle before being quickly confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice tomorrow (easily o'erleapt, actually -- at least seventeen Democrats voted for cloture, where Alito needed only five); and the Democrats have made themselves look foolish for nothing.

So what else is new?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 30, 2006, at the time of 2:55 PM

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» Alito Vote Today, Filibuster Fails from The Lone Elm
The Alito nomination will go to the Senate for vote today. The filibuster failed on a vote of 72-25 yesterday (see Washington Post). Michelle Malkins reports on Teddy Kennedy's histrionics on the floor of the senate. I think its fair [Read More]

Tracked on January 31, 2006 5:00 AM


The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

i can barely wait to Vote *AGAINST* Florida Democrat Bill Nelson!!! It's going to be a Karmic *HAMMER* Vote that he didn't face in 2000, since humble me never Voted before 2002.

Bill get yore bags packed...yore one-way ticket back to Florida is in 'Da Mail!!!

Is it November yet?!?

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2006 3:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: ruthg

Robert Byrd may be old, but his 74th senate term! At six years a term, and assuming he was at least 18 when he started, that would make him at least 462 years old. Closing in on Methusaleh, is he?

The above hissed in response by: ruthg [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2006 8:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Oops, you're quite right... I should have written 78th term!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2006 8:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: dasbow

I don't think Ben Nelson is voting for Alito due to political expediency. I figure his seat is fairly safe, even in conservative Nebraska. I lived in Omaha when Ben was governor and he seemed to do a pretty good job. He's more Republican than that blowhard Chuck Hagel. Not that that's hard to pull off. I'm really hoping the Republicans can find someone to challenge Hagel in the 2008 primaries. Senator Osborne, anyone?

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2006 5:40 AM

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