Free Markets, Free People

The Senate filibuster fight gins up – hypocrites to the left of us, hypocrites to the right … (Update)

Another example of why you can’t ever take anything a politician says at face value or believe them when they say they stand on ‘principle’.

For instance, consider the looming Senate fight over the filibuster.

Once a cause championed by a few Democratic senators, changing the filibuster has become a top priority for Senate Democrats who’ve repeatedly complained about Republicans blocking legislation from even being debated on the Senate floor. Reid noted on Monday that in his nearly six years as majority leader, he has faced 386 Republican-led filibusters in the chamber.

“We can’t continue like this,” a visibly frustrated Reid Monday said in a response to McConnell.

Of course the “visibly frustrated” Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid, was one of those huge champions of the filibuster when he was a minority leader and then the new Majority Leader because he’d used it many times in his long political career:

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV):“As majority leader, I intend to run the Senate with respect for the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect. The Senate was not established to be efficient. Sometimes the rules get in the way of efficiency. The Senate was established to make sure that minorities are protected. Majorities can always protect themselves, but minorities cannot. That is what the Senate is all about.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

REID: “For more than 200 years, the rules of the Senate have protected the American people, and rightfully so. The need to muster 60 votes in order to terminate Senate debate naturally frustrates the majority and oftentimes the minority. I am sure it will frustrate me when I assume the office of majority leader in a few weeks. But I recognize this requirement is a tool that serves the long-term interest of the Senate and the American people and our country.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

REID: “I say on this floor that I love so much that I believe in the Golden Rule. I am going to treat my Republican colleagues the way that I expect to be treated. There is no ‘I’ve got you,’ no get even. I am going to do everything I can to preserve the traditions and rules of this institution that I love.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

REID:“…one of the most sacred rules of the Senate – the filibuster… It is a unique privilege that serves to aid small states from being trampled by the desires of larger states. Indeed, I view the use of the filibuster as a shield, rather than a sword. Invoked to protect rights, not to suppress them.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.434, 1/5/95)

Yeah, well that was then and this is now. The “world has changed” as Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss said this week as he sought to duck out on his pledge of years past not to vote on raising taxes.

You have to love the Reid line about the Senate not being established to be efficient – see the budget.  Going on 4 years without one.  But you see, getting a budget passed would require Reid and the Democrats to compromise with the Republicans in order to achieve that 60 vote margin and, well, he’s just not willing to accomodate the minority despite his stirring words to the contrary about protecting the rights of the Senate minority, words, by the way, he’s likely to dismiss now.

And, as you hear the fight gin up, don’t forget the past words of other Democrats who will now call the GOP minority obstructionists and tell us all the filibuster is bad and has no place in the Senate.  For instance, if we hear the President opining, it’s alway nice to remember his words on the subject for the brief period he was a Senator and take his words, on both sides of the issue, with a grain of salt:

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): “The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this Chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)

OBAMA: “[T]he American people sent us here to be their voice… What they do not expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)

And, of course, that’s precisely what the Democrats and Obama want the Senate GOP to do – sit down and be quiet.

On any subject, you know little Chucky Schumer has an opinion:

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) On Any Threat To The Filibuster: “The basic makeup of our Senate is at stake. The checks and balances that Americans prize are at stake. The idea of bipartisanship, where you have to come together and can’t just ram everything through because you have a narrow majority, is at stake. The very things we treasure and love about this grand republic are at stake.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.4801, 5/10/05)

SCHUMER: “We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option. The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote you don’t get your way 100% of the time. It is amazing it’s almost a temper tantrum… They want their way every single time, and they will change the rules, break the rules, misread the Constitution so they will get their way.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.5208, 5/16/05)

Yes, it was a “Constitutional crisis” in ’05. Now? Not so much.  Speaking of temper tantrums, funny how one’s words can come back to haunt them, not that they care.

Finally, we have dandy Dick Durbin who also thinks it is time to change the filibuster rules, although in ’05, he had a completely different take on the subject:

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): “Those who would attack and destroy the institution of the filibuster are attacking the very force within the Senate that creates compromise and bipartisanship.” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.3763, 4/15/05)

DURBIN: The filibuster is “[one] of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate.” “Many of us in the Senate feel that this agreement tonight means that some of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate will be preserved, will not be attacked and will not be destroyed.” (Sen. Durbin, “Statement Of Sen. Dick Durbin Regarding The Agreement On Judicial Nominations In The Senate,” Press Release, 5/23/05)

It’s not so treasured any more, is it?  At least not by Senate Democrats who were so enamored with it in ’05.

The point of course is obvious.  Don’t ever believe anything any politician of either side says on any subject – ever. They’ll bail on it in a New York minute if they see political advantage in doing so.  Pledges and “traditions” mean nothing to them.

If faith in government is built on trust, and trust is built on political leaders promising to do things and then keeping their word, trust in this government died quite a while ago.

And that’s sort of the crux of the problem isn’t it?  We are represented by an amoral political class who doesn’t hold their word to mean anything and reserve the right to change their “principles” on the fly in an attempt to gain temporary political advantage.

We’re served by the worst political class I can remember.

The problem is we can’t blame them – we elected them, and, like Harry Reid and Saxby Chambliss, we’ve kept them in office for decades.

Unfortunately, when you don’t pay attention and you just tune in when it is convenient for you, you get exactly what you deserve in DC.  This is just another in a long line of examples of that truth.

UPDATE: Apparently the WSJ and I are on the same wave-length today:

One of the more amazing post-election spectacles is the media celebration of Republicans who say they’re willing to repudiate their pledge against raising taxes. So the same folks who like to denounce politicians because they can’t be trusted are now praising politicians who openly admit they can’t be trusted.


If Republicans in Congress want to repudiate the pledge, they are free to do so at any time. They could even quote Edmund Burke’s line that a democratic representative owes his electors his best judgment, not a slavish fealty to majority opinion. But that would mean saying they didn’t mean it when they signed the pledge. So they are now busy pretending that Mr. Norquist is a modern Merlin who conned them into signing the pledge and must be eliminated before they can do the “right thing” and raise taxes.


Republican voters know that elections have consequences and that Mitt Romney’s defeat means there will be policy defeats too. But they will give the House and Senate GOP credit if it fights for its principles and drives a hard bargain.  The voters are also smart enough to know that Republicans who focus on Mr. Norquist are part of the problem.

But apparently, for some, it’s too much to ask our politicians to stand by their word.  Apparently, principles are only important when these people say they’re important.  At other times, they’re very malleable or can be thrown to the side and rationalized away.  And in this case, the rationalization apparently says that political necessity now requires that a crumb be thrown to “public opinion”.

With other people’s money, of course.


17 Responses to The Senate filibuster fight gins up – hypocrites to the left of us, hypocrites to the right … (Update)

  • Objectively…and I mean “in reality”…McQ, how often have some of the people you are criticizing put it on the line to stop bad policy?
    Your lil’ screed here seems like butt-hurt more than sound argument.  Your “moral equivalency” crap is getting old, too, BTW.  Maybe you think Harry Reid is the same as McConnel is the same as McAnus is the same…  I do not.  Reid is quanta worse.
    In combat, do you adjust to fluid situations, or do you stick with Plan A to the bitter end?
    Should we reform the tax code, even if that requires we give away a few points on the upper brackets?  If it gets us started on reforming entitlements?  If it hastens the day when idiot policy cannot be ignored for its failures?
    Normally, tax increases hurt economic activity in the private sector.  In these circumstances, would that effect be expressed in the face of all the OTHER things killing our economy?  I rather doubt it.
    One last note: hypocrisy does not mean what you think it means.  You confuse it with “humanity”…common enough.  Jefferson was not a hypocrite, but he held slaves.  He was a human being, trying to reconcile his best impulses with his conduct.  A hypocrite has no intent to do good, but pretends he does or has.  Unlike Jefferson, a hypocrite has no inner struggles, since hypocrisy is a performance for an outward audience.

    • Harry Reid is one of the most reprehensible politicians I have seen in a long time. But let him switch the rules, let the Dems get whatever they want. Let them burn it, lay the ashes at their feet. And in addition, let him do this. They won’t be the majority forever. Reprisals will happen, all we need is for them to set the precedent.

    • McConnel is dealing from the weaker deck. That’s why, in politics “party trumps person” when it comes to elections.

      • And political “reality” is measured in “perception” by the public, a public quite under the thumb of the MiniTru, which is why continuing resolutions under Clinton let him propagandize that the Republicans were “shutting down the government” with all the attendant pathological lies put out about that.

  • Evidently the GOP has been filibustering budgets for almost 5 years….

  • Hey Rags, you don’t like it, you know what your options are.

    If you can’t identify dishonesty on both sides or hold politicians feet to the fire when they back out on what they’ve promised, that’s not my problem, but it certainly is the country’s problem being manifested as we speak.

    If you can’t live up to a promise, don’t make it.  Pretty simple, really.  If you do make a promise, be prepared to live with it.  Or pay the consequences, the least of which is being called a hypocrite.  Unfortunately when politicians are allowed to constantly get away with doing that, and, in fact, even rewarded with re-election, they have no fear of promising whatever to stay in power.

    If you’re fine with that, enjoy.

    • Part of the problem is gerrymandering. I never understood that. Lay a freaking grid stencil over the map of the country and those are your districts.  But you are correct in that WE are to blame. We elect ’em, and the only way they leave office is in a pine box. And then their kids (or spouse) gets dibs on the seat like some sort of American royal legacy. I mean I was reading an article rating the chances of another Bush (Jeb) and another Clinton (Hillary, but also Chelsea for chrissakes) running for higher office sooner rather than later. I used to think this nation could do better, but now I wonder….I really do.

    • Funny, McQ, you didn’t speak to a single thing I pointed out.
      Well, perhaps not so odd, at that…

  • Agreed.

    • And, as critiques go…
      does it get any more devastating than that….????

      • Look, are the GOP spineless hacks? Of course! I’m not giving them a pass here and I totally understand why McQ is disgusted. I guess the question is if this is the hill to die on? Churchill talked a good game about fighting them everywhere to the end, but he wasn’t above a strategic retreat when needed. And I think it’s needed. Just being pragmatic here – the GOP has the losers hand. There are ZERO scenarios where the GOP can stop these increases. There are ZERO scenarios where the GOP doesn’t get the mass blame for whatever bad happens. There are ZERO scenarios where the GOP can horsetrade for some sort of meaningful reform. The BEST case for the GOP if they hold out? They get demonized and ultimately cave in exchange for a meaningless show reduction/reform, which allows the Dems to look like the heroes because they acted like the adults to the GOP spoiled children.
        To quote Wargames – the only way to win is not to play. And they shouldn’t.  If it burns, let the Dems be the ones 100% responsible.

        • I disagree with most of what you said.
          Any office-holder is a political animal, by definition.  That does not make them “spineless hacks”.  Can you name some that are NOT that, cause I can.  Some of them are “selectively spined”, to be sure.
          The GOP CAN simply let the tax rates expire, which would have the limited virtue of showing how the Bush rate reductions were never the LIED ABOUT tax cuts for the wealthy.
          The GOP CAN insist on some leadership from the regime.  Hardly unpopular.
          The GOP COULD readily throw themselves in front of an upper-bracket tax increase if the Bush rates were continued.
          The GOP CAN insist on passage of spending cuts PRIOR to a change in the tax rates.  Again, hardly unpopular.
          The GOP CAN insist on a reformation of the tax code on some fundamental levels.  More popularly supported moves.
          The GOP CAN abstain from a vote on the prospect of raising rates on the highest earners.  Who could object to that?
          Will they be tarred by the Collective, regardless of the truth?  Sure.  See wealthy, tax cuts for the.  The Collective lies all the time.  Successfully.

          • The Collective is gonna win this round. That’s the reality. It stinks but that’s what it is.

          • “The Collective is gonna win this round.”
            Small correction – HAS won this round.

          • Cynicism is one thing.  Counting your chickens as dead before they hatch is quite another.