Friday, February 03, 2012

Compare & Contrast, Redux

New York Times, March 29, 2005:
Since George W. Bush first became president, Democratic senators have used the filibuster 10 times to block the confirmation of nominees for federal court judgeships. They chose their targets cautiously -- more than 200 other nominees were confirmed, some of them men and women whose records were extremely conservative. . .

The Senate, of all places, should be sensitive to the fact that this large and diverse country has never believed in government by an unrestrained majority rule. Its composition is a repudiation of the very idea that the largest number of votes always wins out. . .

While the filibuster has not traditionally been used to stop judicial confirmations, it seems to us this is a matter in which it's most important that a large minority of senators has a limited right of veto. Once confirmed, judges can serve for life and will remain on the bench long after Mr. Bush leaves the White House. And there are few responsibilities given to the executive and the legislature that are more important than choosing the members of the third co-equal branch of government. The Senate has an obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of the process.
New York Times, March 1, 2009:
[T]he use of the filibuster as an everyday tool of legislation stands the idea of democratic government on its head. Instead of majority rule in the Senate, the tyranny of the minority prevails.
New York Times, January 2, 2011:
In the last two Congressional terms, Republicans have brought 275 filibusters that Democrats have been forced to try to break. [NOfP note: wrong--the Times and others confuse cloture with filibuster.] That is by far the highest number in Congressional history, and more than twice the amount in the previous two terms.

These filibusters are the reason there was no budget passed this year, and why as many as 125 nominees to executive branch positions and 48 judicial nominations were never brought to a vote. They have produced public policy that we strongly opposed, most recently preserving the tax cuts for the rich, but even bipartisan measures like the food safety bill are routinely filibustered and delayed.
New York Times, July 4, 2011:
[In] the last few years in the United States Senate, . . . virtually every measure is filibustered.

Any senator can object to a bill, and often kill it, by triggering the 60-vote threshold. Bills that pass are often watered down or seriously compromised to win the last few votes, long after a majority has consented. As noted recently by Matthew Yglesias, a blogger with the Center for American Progress, the supermajority rule has blocked pricing limits on carbon use and the Dream Act for young immigrants, limited the 2009 stimulus bill, and diluted the reform of health care and the financial system -- just since the beginning of the Obama administration.

[T]here have been many talented and qualified presidential nominees whose appointments have never even been considered because one senator blocked them. . .

Supermajority requirements allow small groups of people to exert undue influence.
New York Times, January 29, 2012:
It is time to end the ability of a single senator, or group of senators, to block the confirmation process by threatening a filibuster, which can be overcome only by the vote of 60 senators. We agree with President Obama’s call in the State of the Union address for the Senate to change its rules and require votes on judicial and executive nominees within 90 days.

This is a major change of position for us, and we came to it reluctantly. The filibuster has sometimes been the only way to deny life terms on the federal bench to extremist or unqualified judges. But the paralysis has become so dire that we see no other solution.
Conclusion: I quoted most of this last year. And I quoted Don Surber saying:
The New York Times position on filibusters is easily understood. When Republicans are in power, filibusters are good. When Democrats are in power, filibusters are evil.
So, a bold prediction: the current Times position on the filibuster will last only so long as Democrats hold the White House.

BTW, full disclosure, I also believe that the filibuster is unconstitutional when applied to Senate votes under the "Appointments Clause". But my view is based on a careful reading of the text of Article II, Section 2, clause 2, and independent of the party in power.

The Constitution is neither "living," nor does it morph to the media and coastal elites. Fidelity to the Founding Fathers isn't "code words" for anything; it's adherence to the rule of law (see last para). Remember that when the Times next carps about Republican flip-flops.


OBloodyHell said...

>>> Remember that when the Times next carps about Republican flip-flops.

The Times isn't flip-flopping. You would have to have an actual position to change in order for that to be the case.

Since they have no position other than the one which most promotes their agenda at any given moment, they can't be held accountable for consistency or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

Just a subset of the NYT's standard "If good then a democrat did it. If bad, then a republican did it." meme.

OBloodyHell said...

>>> [NOfP note: wrong--the Times and others confuse cloture with filibuster.]

Got any numbers on how many times they've invoked filibuster vs. cloture...? Since the NYT cites numbers it's worth doing here. ;-)

>>> "If good then a democrat did it. If bad, then a republican did it." meme
You missed the part about "ifit's bad, and there's no question a democrat did it, no need to point out they're a democrat."