Republicans have been going around making the claim that the Democrats in the US Senate have filibustered 10 judicial nominations. Give or take maybe one example, this has never been done before.
Thing is, the Democrats haven’t really filibustered ANY of these nominees. I watch C-Span pretty regularly, and I don’t recall seeing Evan Bayh making like Jimmy Stewart- with his collar pulled open, hoarse and weak from 24 hours speaking against Priscilla Owens.
No, these pansy Republicans have just let the Democrats have the point. Just SAY that you’re going to filibuster, and the Republicans give up. Good on the Democrats for being clever enough to put this off on the opposition. The Republicans have given them a big fat freebie.
Now, the lazy Republicans wish to bypass this with the “constitutional option” or “nuclear option,” depending on your perspective. That is, Frist is considering simply declaring filibusters out of order, and proceeding by majority vote. He and other Republicans insist that this would only be stopping filibusters for judicial nominations, and would not apply to other senate business. Why one and not the other?
Granted, the Democrats have been pretty abusive of the process vis a vis these Bush judges. However, before we start making changes to important longstanding rules that have held the body in good stead, we ought to look for a better way.
Obviously, the Republicans should simply call their bluff. Bring one of these problematic nominees up, and make the Democrats actually filibuster. Their people are putting out ads with Jimmy Stewart and his big dramatic filibuster from Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Make them do it. I’d be particularly enjoy watching their grand wizard, ol’ Robert Byrd talking for 8 or 10 hours against Janice Brown.
An actual filibuster would likely have serious and increasing political costs to the Democrats. They’d get some public disdain for shutting down the work of government, much as the Republicans caught hell for the Clinton era “shutdown.” Day by day, this obstructionism would make them more unpopular with the public.
The public would likely be wanting some pretty strong justification for what made the nominee bad enough to shut down the work of the senate over. The Democrats lack the talent to make such a case, even if they had a good one. They don’t here. I’ve seen Harry Reid, and he’s no Jimmy Stewart.
Plus, they’d be on the record and on C-Span 24/7. Make these buggers actually talk for several days straight. Imagine how much stupid stuff would inevitably come out of their mouths and onto videotape.
Consider the fodder for the late night comics and bloggers. Consider the fodder for attack ads against the senators back home during the next election. Plus, they’d just physically wear the Democrats down.
Largely, we’re getting all these so-called filibusters because the majority party is giving them away. Make them pay for the play, and you won’t get near so much of it.
My best guest, the Democrats would do this once. They’d hold out for two or three days, and then buckle under mounting public disapproval. That’d break them from sucking eggs.