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The "Conventional Weapons Option"
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dick Morris actually has some interesting advice for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Instead of killing the filibuster rules for judicial nominations, actually have a real filibuster.
Frist should bring up a judicial nomination of little consequence for the nation — say Charles Pickering — and let the Democrats explain, at tedious length, why they are tying up the entire nation over a judgeship for Mississippi...

Bring the cots into the Democratic and Republican antechambers and stage quorum calls throughout the night, as in the old days of civil-rights legislation, and the nation will notice. The Democrats will leave America to wonder why they are spending all of their time debating a judgeship in Mississippi when they are not addressing the problems of healthcare, energy, gas prices, the economy, Social Security reform and the preservation and expansion of Medicare. The endless debate over so minor an item will make the country disgusted and will expose all to the true perils of unbridled partisanship in Washington.

When vote after vote for closure fails, usually by the same deadening margin, the voters will increasingly see the case for squelching the filibuster and then the nuclear option would be welcome by the nation.
That's actually quite an attractive option. Schedule a floor debate on Pickering and let it last as long as it lasts. Right now, the whole "filibuster" deal that we're having lets the Democrats off the hook. The Republican unwillingness to have a full-scale showdown over this issue is baffling. I've heard several senators on the Republican side say it's because they don't want to stop the Senate's business, and want to get on with the work of the American people.

Horse feathers! If there is any blame to be apportioned from shutting down the senate in a real filibuster, it'll become perfectly obvious that it's the Democrats who are filibustering, and preventing the senate's work from being done.

It seems to me that this would be a very effective solution, because if you can make the Democrats publicly look bad over Pickering, then it becomes much more difficult for them to go back and do another filibuster later over Priscilla Owen. Then another over Janice Rogers Brown. Then another over Bill Pryor.

What the Republicans tactics are doing now is making it easy for the Democrats to pursue a quasi-filibuster, because as long as senate business gets done, there's no visible effect from filibustering that the Democrats have to explain. That makes the Republican case for eliminating judicial filibusters seem like some arcane rule-bending, parliamentary trickery.

Show the public what a real filibuster looks like. Allow the Senate to ground to a halt, and the political pressure will, it seems to me, very quickly move the public toward understanding why eliminating judicial filibusters is a good idea.

Every day, the top story in the news would be that the Democrats are filibustering to prevent a judge for an inconsequential Federal judicial district in Mississippi from being confirmed. Every day, the public would watch as Democrats refuse to vote for cloture, then go back to "debating" while reading aloud from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Even the prospect of a real filibuster might go far toward eliminating Democratic opposition to some of these judges. In fact, I think we're pretty close to that point anyway. Already, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) is proposing compromises. He's apparently willing to allow a vote on 8 of the 10 "extremist" judges—a compromise, by the way, that speaks volumes about the cynicism by which the Democrats are pushing the "extremist" argument, and how unprincipled their opposition really is.

Yes, forcing the Senate into a real filibuster might be quite useful indeed.

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Moreover, while the filibuster is going on, Republicans, assuming they can get anyone scheduled to speak, can point out, Like former Governor Pete DuPont does in the Wall Street Journal today, that the devotion to "protecting the rights of the minority" is a very newfound virtue for Democrats.
Joe Biden and Robert Byrd, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer and their erstwhile colleagues Lloyd Bentsen, and Tom Daschle have all vigorously opposed the use of the filibuster against judicial nominations. Mr. Schumer was for voting judicial nominations "up or down" without delay. Mr. Leahy flatly opposed a filibuster against Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination: "The president and the nominee and all Americans deserve an up-or-down vote." Mr. Harkin believed "the filibuster rules are unconstitutional," Mr. Daschle declared that "democracy means majority rule, not minority gridlock," and Mr. Kennedy that "senators who believe in fairness will not let the minority of the Senate deny [the nominee] his vote by the entire Senate."
Asking for explanations for that «then vs. now dichotomy» would, at the least, be entertaining. We would be endlessly treated to scenes like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) explaining, "I thought I knew everything. I didn't get it...I am here to say I was totally wrong."

Just add that to the very long list of things that Sen. Boxer, the Forrest Gump of the Senate, just doesn't get.

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Right now, the filibuster is a painless and easy option for Democrats to pursue. And simply killing the filibuster rule through a rules challenge to the chair strikes a lot of the public as unseemly, especially if it's done—as it inevitably will be—on a day when Vice President Cheney is serving as the chair. It'll look unseemly, especially if people don't really understand the issues, which, basically, they don't. The average American neither knows, nor cares to know, about the rules of the senate.

But if you force a real filibuster to take place, one thing will certainly be clear: that it's the Democrats who are obstructing the work of the Senate. That would make explaining the importance of ending judicial filibusters much more clear to the electorate.

Just from a pure tactical viewpoint, that seems to me like it would be an extraordinarily useful thing to have happen.
 
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The Republicans would be even less likely to encourage an actual filibuster than to use the so-called "nuclear" option. It would require some real work on their part.

Also, as far as I can tell, Charles Pickering is not a nominee, having announced his retirement in December.
 
Written By: Attila
URL: http://pillageidiot.blogspot.com
Correct me if I am wrong, Sammy, but the rule does not require the fillibustering party to actually discuss the merits of the nomination that is being fillibustered.

And if it doesn’t, implementing your advice would mean the Dems would have the stage to themselves. They could spend that time discussing the reasonableness of their overall agenda, and how the the extreme religious right has taken over the other side. Turn in into a real Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith goes to Washington kind of thing. Do you think the GOP really wants to give the Dems the bully pulpit 24 hours a day?

Something tells me that the cooler heads in the GOP have already considered and rejected your advice a long time ago, if only because they know that taking your advice would basically allow the Dems hours upon hours of free air time to villify the GOP.

The toe sucker is wrong on this one.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
They could spend that time discussing the reasonableness of their overall agenda, and how the the extreme religious right has taken over the other side.
But we know they’d never do that. I mean, Robert Byrd said that he didn’t want the filibuster broken up because it would restrain "debate on judges". Surely, surely, he wasn’t trying to mislead us? Surely, the Democrats would only filibuster so they could debate the merits of these judges?

I mean, I’d just be shocked to find out that Senator Byrd’s steadfast dedication to "debate" was merely a rhetorical dodge.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I seem to recall that, during the ’64 Civil Rights bill filibuster Strom Thurmond took the mic and proceeded to read the entire Bible from front to back to mark the time. Okay, that was 4 years before I was born but still, it has been almost legendary since that time.

AFAIK, whoever has the floor can talk about anything they want. The purpose of the fili. is not to convince anyone but to see who wears down first. So let the Dems. yammer on about Single Payer Healthcare©®™, The Social Contract©®™, Fair Trade©®™ and the rest of their agenda. Meanwhile the Pubs will prattle on about private accounts, Tax Relief©®™, Medicare Reform©®™, etc. I’ll be watching to see who stumbles on their words at 3 AM. May the side with the greatest resistance to sleep-deprivation win!
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Correct me if I am wrong, Sammy, ...
Who’s "Sammy"?
...implementing your advice would mean the Dems would have the stage to themselves...Do you think the GOP really wants to give the Dems the bully pulpit 24 hours a day? ... taking your advice would basically allow the Dems hours upon hours of free air time to villify the GOP.
But who’s going to listen to them? Aside from the every day "bully pulpit" the Dems already have in the form of the MSM, why would the GOP be afraid of the Dems spouting more of the same vitriol that’s heard around the country each and every hour of each and every day?

Besides, mkultra, you can’t even read an entire post from beginning to end without missing the entire point, are you (and your brethren) really going sit through hours upon hours of C-SPAN? You’re just going to make up your own facts anyway, so why bother with burden of acquainting yourself the details?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Correct me if I am wrong, Sammy, but the rule does not require the fillibustering party to actually discuss the merits of the nomination that is being fillibustered.

There are no limitations to what a Senator may say once he has the floor. However, there’s a difference between what is said on the Senate floor—which only C-SPAN junkies would see—and what the Dems would be saying on the 6 o’clock news when they’re asked why they’re holding up all Senate business.

Color me unsurprised you didn’t think of that.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Ogre and I have moved and seconded this idea somewhile back.

http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?entry=1612

It’s nice that you all have, however belatedly, noticed ... Even if it took Dick Morris to get your attention
 
Written By: pouncer
URL: http://
There are no limitations to what a Senator may say once he has the floor. However, there’s a difference between what is said on the Senate floor—which only C-SPAN junkies would see—and what the Dems would be saying on the 6 o’clock news when they’re asked why they’re holding up all Senate business.

Color me unsurprised you didn’t think of that.
Let’s see, the idea here is that forcing a true filibuster would create a dramatic scene, one that we have not seen for decades. Like something out of a movie.

No - of course the press would have no interest in televising that. But they would be interested in televising a press conference, hundreds of which are held every day. Right.

Sometimes the things you write Steverino are really stupid. This is one of them.

BTW - all the Dems would have to say is that they are willing to compromise - to let in a few judges provided the GOP drops a few others. Like Reid has already done. Then, Reid could explain that the GOP is not willing to compromise. They want it all. The American public - which still believes in bipartisanship - would understand that. And there’s your Mr. Smith moment. The Dems have to fillibuster because the GOP won’t compromise.

Like I said, forcing a true fillibuster would be good for the Dems. That’s why you have not seen it already. Duh. Geez - figure it out.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
"a true filibuster would be good for the Dems" ...

I’d like to see it. I think it’d be amusing to see any politician try to improvise coherent thoughts and string them together into actual articulate sentences, while the cameras roll and the public watches.

Now, if they schedule Obama for prime time and Teddy Kennedy for the post-Letterman, informercial segment of the broadcast day, they’d have the best possible impact.

But there are just so many idiocies coming out the mouths of our Senators - of both parties—that the prospect of giving only one the chance to shoot itself in the foot has a partisan appeal.
 
Written By: pouncer
URL: http://
Y’know, in the meantime someone should really tell Frist & the like that pulling The Religion Card actually hurts the case in favor of them being confirmed...

It’s good if true Original Intent types get to the bench, because then they’ll stick to the Constitution even if the same Republicans that put them there don’t like it.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://psychopolitik.blogspot.com
Let’s see, the idea here is that forcing a true filibuster would create a dramatic scene, one that we have not seen for decades. Like something out of a movie.

Name the last time any portion of a Senate filibuster was televised on the news. Come on, we’ll all wait.

Filibusters are BORING television. A bunch of Senators droning on about nothing. It’s even more boring that what’s usually said on the Senate floor, which hardly ever makes the news.

If the press doesn’t question the Dems why they’re holding up Senate business, then the press isn’t doing its job.


Like I said, forcing a true fillibuster would be good for the Dems. That’s why you have not seen it already. Duh. Geez - figure it out.

You really are the densest element on the periodic table, aren’t you?
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
Sen. Boxer, the Forrest Gump of the Senate

I’m still laughing, Dale ... great characterization.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Except it’s unfair to Forrest Gump :P
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://www.thepatriette.com/dangerous
I wonder if Teddy would drink during his 4-hour shift on the floor? Of course, it would be really hard to tell by his speech patterns...
 
Written By: Ogre
URL: http://www.ogresview.blogspot.com
mk says
The Dems have to fillibuster because the GOP won’t compromise.
Well, they won’t agree to the democrats plan...but what if the GOP offers their own compromise? But I guess you won’t think it’s a compromise if the republicans get to vote on all their judges, will you?

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net

 
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