May 10, 2010

Preeners vs. Winners: Time to Throw Off the Gloves

Hatched by Dafydd

Over on my favorite blog, Paul Mirengoff comes down strongly against Republicans mounting a filibuster of the nomination of Elena Kagen, barring the discovery of what Paul calls "extraordinary circumstances." On this here blog here, brilliant trial lawyer and all-around miscreant and gadfly Beldar made the same point a couple of days ago. (I would suggest that Paul must have cribbed from Beldar, except that would necessarily imply that Paul Mirengoff reads Big Lizards... which assertion would further my reputation of delusional disorder.)

In our previous post linked above, I suggested that the GOP might try to delay President Barack H. Obama's Supreme Court nomination until the next Congress is seated, eight months from now. The air will surely be much thinner then for judicial activists, while constitutionalists will have more congressional firepower; perhaps the Obamacle could be induced to moderate his radicalism somewhat... but only if the president's forray into "Chicago Rules" stops working and begins backfiring.

Here's how Beldar put his rejection of the plan:

I argued very insistently during the Bush-43 Administration that judicial filibusters (as opposed to filibusters in general) are contrary to the clearly implied constitutional duty of senators to give the president an up or down vote on his nominees. That duty was honored and satisfied for the most part throughout most of the history of the Republic; filibustering is a long tradition, but not one that historically has included judicial nominees.

I could be flip and simply respond, "tick tock, Beldar; care to join us in the twenty-first century?" But I'll resist the temptation to make that my only argument...

We currently inhabit a political epoch in which two rival claimants to the throne, Republicans and Democrats, are engaged in a titanic battle for the future of the realm. In that twilight struggle, Democrats routinely fail to "honor and satisfy" the principles of comity, civility, and fair play that used to bind our country together stronger than Gorilla Glue. Yet Paul's and Beldar's thesis essentially argues that, the GOP should nevertheless adhere to those traditions, regardless of Democratic contarianism.

In the first years of the new millennium, we fought to preserve Senate comity... and we lost. Big time. Now we must ask the question: Is our purpose now merely to prove that we are morally superior to the Left?

Or is our purpose to force the cheaters and revisionists to retreat to the status quo ante and begin honoring the old commitments again? If the former, then we are merely preeners; but if the latter, we must ask (as in any conflict) what tactics should we employ to achieve victory?

If all we're interested in doing is puffing out our chests and strutting around like roosters, playing the self-righteousness card as if it were wild, then there's no point to this discussion: Democrats will be happy to let us act superior, so long as we allow them to continue winning. So let's suppose, for sake of continued argument, that we're really interested in changing the rules back to where they were before. How best can we do that?

Here is the key to this post: Democrats will never return to the old rules so long as the new rules give them an edge. And the new rules will give them an edge so long as Republicans quaintly adhere to the old: We'll get gobsmacked over and over, with each dirty Democratic victory reinforcing, in their minds, the benefits of playing by the new.

The worst possible tactic for us to use -- if our goal is to restore the system back to the way it used to work -- would be to enable a double standard, where Democrats can filibuster judicial appointments to their heart's desire, while Republicans stand stiff on principle and refuse to take advantage of the parliamentary maneuver.

This isn't just moral posturing, it's unilateral surrender: The Democrats' incentive is to keep doing what's successful; there's no reason in the world for them to back away from their aggressive, hyper-partisan strategy. It's working!

But if we were to begin playing by Chicago Rules ourselves, that would eliminate the advantage the Left has long enjoyed by its monopoly on ruthlessness. If both sides, not just one, were fighting under the new rules, then the Democrats would have an incentive to cut a deal with the GOP, both sides agreeing to scale back the divisiveness.

Simply put, we need to show the Democrats that two can play this game. If we bloody the Left's nose, then and only then might they be willing to agree to a truce, or at least a temporary ceasefire.

I'm tired of Democrats offering to hold the football while Republicans run up and kick it. Next time, Charlie Brown should haul off and kick Lucy, not the empty space where the ball was before she yanked it away. Then maybe she -- or should I say Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) -- might contemplate his sore backside and become more willing to negotiate in good faith, knowing that bad faith will finally carry some unpleasant consequences.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 10, 2010, at the time of 6:40 PM

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The following hissed in response by: gordo

I say filibuster. This is how we got rid of the special prosecutor law, by using it against the Democrats. After Kagen gets filibustered to death, the Democrats will be lothe to use that particular tactic again.

The above hissed in response by: gordo [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2010 7:16 PM

The following hissed in response by: BlackRedneck

It's amazing that all of the talking heads keep spouting the same "take the high road" nonsense? What a bunch of SAPS!!! I find it interesting that it's the converted conservatives like Breitbart, Horowitz, the Hillbuzz etc. that have been the most successful at using the lefts tactics against the democrats. Breitbart is AWESOME!

The above hissed in response by: BlackRedneck [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2010 11:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Texas Jack

Hey, that sounds great! We can filibuster for six months easy! And the election's comming up, we really need to start now to set up the cemetary vote and do some deep research on all the democrat candidates for anything we can use to really smear them. Better set up a good group to invent some lies in case we can't find anything. Come to think of it, that should be first; we can always use lies if we can't find any other way to destroy this monster. sarc/off

No, thanks, Dafydd. I'm not a democrat, and I won't act like one. I'd rather loose and still be able to look myself in the face than to become the very thing I was fighting against.

The above hissed in response by: Texas Jack [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2010 8:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Texas Jack:

This is a perfect example of "lightswitch reasoning," where the switch is either all the way on or all the way off; no Mr. In-Between.

Either we must be as ideologically and tactically pure as the driven snow, where we don't even stoop to campaigning (because it's vulgar, and that's what Democrats do!)... or else our only alternative is to be every bit as corrupt, unprincipled, and violent as the most hardcore leftist. No room for compromise!

TJ, I'm sorry, but your "philosophy" is like libertarianism: It's just an excuse for "losing gracefully," for never having actually to choose "conservative enough" over "the purest conservative," because the latter is unelectable.

It's easy to be rigidly principled, uncompromising, untainted by tactical decisions, and ideologically unadulterated -- when such absolutism carries no consequences. Imagine a kosher Jew who lives in New York City; around every corner is a nice market or restaurant where he can buy good, nutritious, tasty kosher food. Not very hard to resist temptation, because he always has satisfying alternatives to eating treif.

But it's a hell of a lot harder if you live on an island where nearly the only meat available has paws or cloven hooves, and where there are no rabbis to properly bless the few non-porcine animals or ensure they're slaughtered in a kosher way. Where your only alternatives are to compromise your conservative dietary restrictions, or else slowly starve to death on liberal cabbage.

Perhaps you never have to make a tough electoral decision; maybe your state, congressional district, and legislative districts are all safely conservative, so you never have to decide between voting for an Arnold Schwarzenegger or haughtily disdaining to vote -- and allowing a Cruz Bustamante to win. Maybe you can throw your vote away on a conservatively correct candidate you know won't win -- because the race is a foregone conclusion, for good or ill.

But for most of the country, we don't have the luxury of standing on lofty principle and fighting only by Marquis of Queensbury rules; if we do, we end up living in a liberal hellhole. We must fight and scrap for every race, because we might actually win sometimes... if we're willing to be somewhat flexible about ideology and aggressive and fearless in strategy.

I'm glad you never have to make a tough political decision; but when you tell people in California and New York and Massachusetts and Illinois and Florida that we're "acting like Democrats," and that we're "the very thing we're fighting against," just because we actually try to beat the Left, even if that means supporting a moderate who might win or engaging in hardball every now and again... then you're being sanctimonious -- and a moral preener.

Take the U.S. Senate race. I can't vote for Jon Kyl or Jim DeMint; my only viable Republican choices are Tom Campbell, Chuck DeVore, and Carly Fiorina:

Campbell is about as liberal as one can be and still be a Republican -- he's pro-abortion, he buys into anthropogenic global climate change (though he's wishy washy on "solutions"), and he prominently voted against Proposition 8, which restored the definition of marriage to one man and one woman. He's basically a libertarian with very liberal non-fiscal leanings.

Chuck DeVore is the most ideologically pure conservative in the race; he gets 100% and 99% from most of the conservative rating organizations. But he seems to have a lot of trouble raising money, likely because he's out of step with most Californians.

Carly Fiorina is ideologically in between Campbell and DeVore; and she has the most money, being the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She alone could match the incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, dollar for dollar.

But our current senator is one of the most liberal in the Senate, with a 100% rating from Americans for Democratic Action -- and 4% from the American Conservative Union. The polling shows Boxer running ahead of Campbell by an average of 1% (that is, a dead heat); ahead of Fiorina by an average of 3.7%, just outside the margin of error; and ahead of DeVore by 5.7%.

You can sit in your ivory tower if you wish, refusing to sully your hands by tough, aggressive campaigning or to compromise the slightest conservative principle. But I'm more interested in swapping Boxer for any of our three major Republican candidates... even if that means Tom Campbell.

I haven't the luxury of sanctimony; I live in a world where even pro-abortion, pro-same-sex-marriage, anti-war-on-terror (he doesn't even mention the current conflicts on his website) Tom Campbell is an enormous improvement from Barbara "Call me Senator" Boxer. And if Campbell is the nominee, I will campaign hard for him -- and I won't scruple to be "unfair" to Boxer.

I'll stay as honest as I can, but I'll cheerfully cast in a very negative light everything she says and does, even if an impartial and non-partisan judge would exonerate her. I'm an anti-liberal, anti-Democratic partisan advocate... not a philosopher king.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2010 12:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn

Any excuse for not fighting the Democrats and every nominee to any court they may make died with the inquisition that The Hero of Chappaquidick conducted on Robert Bork. There are no rules when dealing with the most corrupt organization in the country. As I would use tactic possible to prevent a Mafia member from a city council seat, I will use tactic available to keep a Democrat from a seat on a court.

Anyway we don't have to use any dishonorable tactics, just demand all opinions she gave Clinton and Obama. They'll never release them. And we deserve to know.

The above hissed in response by: Ken Hahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2010 9:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

If the conservatives have not yet noticed, the Liberals are very similar to the Muslims.
The ONLY thing they respect and recognize is strength, and the willingness to use that strength.
Remember when the Democrats said,
"Even though you won all the elections, you should share the power and give some of the committees
to us. That is only proper."
And, we DID! What a bunch of maroons.
Although I don't think Michael Steele has a spine in his body, I hope John Boehner does.
We have to slap those people up aside their heads and kick them while they're down.
Only then will they understand that we are serious.

The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2010 2:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Tonestaple

Listening to Democrats, who only want what's best for us, never ever works. It seems to me that's how we ended up with John McCain in the last election, by listening to the media who crowned him king because they figured he was a sure loser. There's plenty we can do without being corrupt and that includes teaching the damned fools running our country into the ground that sauce for the goose tastes very, very good on the gander.

The above hissed in response by: Tonestaple [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2010 8:09 AM

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