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Opening Arguments

Nuclear madness

Somebody could spend all day compiling examples of hypocrisy from all across the political spectrum over the U.S. Senate's "nuclear option," which was avoided for all of American history until Harry Reid decided to go there this week. Our politicians and elected officials are passionately for the filibuster or vehemently against it based solely on whether their party is in the Senate minority or majority.

We expect such nonsense from politicians; that's what they do and who they are. But there should be a special spot in hypocrisy hell for newspaper editorial pages that are so shamelessly partisan. Consider The New York Times. Thanks to a little research by Patterico, we can see how the Times viewed the filibuster when George Bush had the White House and the GOP had a Senate majority:

Of all the hollow arguments Senate Republicans have made in their attempt to scrap the opposition’s right to have a say on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the one that’s most hypocritical insists that history is on their side in demanding a “simple up-or-down vote” on the Senate floor. Republicans and Democrats have used a variety of tactics, from filibuster threats to stealthy committee inaction on individual nominations, in blocking hundreds of presidential appointments across history, including about one in five Supreme Court nominees. This is all part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch.

And how they feel now with President Obama and a Democratic majority:

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.

As I've written here before, I realize that we are all potential hypocrites with the tendency to say completely different things depending on whether we're writing about our firends or our enemies. But I think we have an obligation to be aware of that and try not to be so blatantly obvious about it. I don't think we can ever get rid of the effects of our biases, but we can soften them.

Powerline asks:

Have they forgotten that Google exists? Are they unaware that anyone can search their web site and see what they wrote about an issue when the shoe was on the other foot? Or are they so resigned to being known as partisan hacks that they just don’t care?


Frank Keller
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 11:48am

Now that the Senate has disenfranchised half the country, we are truly flyover! You can forget about the majority of the land area of this country having any say about what goes on.  This was the idea behind the Northren counties of Colorado, and California wanting to seperate and form new states as they nolonger had representation due to the larger city's  

andrew j
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 10:17pm

JFK was assassinated 50 years ago today. The NS talks about Harry Reid on its editorial pages. No wonder opening arguments goes days without a response from a reader.

Leo Morris
Mon, 11/25/2013 - 9:24am

Yeah, silly me, writing about a current event that will have a major effect in the future instead of commenting on something 50 years ago about which there cannot possibly be anythin new to say. What the hell was I thinking of?

andrew j
Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:56am

Do both.