One of the things that is endlessly amusing to me is watching the two parties do their dance of feigned outrage at the tactics of the other party when they have engaged in the same tactics when the tables were previously turned. The latest example is the frantic hand-wringing of the Republicans about Democrats in the Senate blocking 10 Bush judicial nominations in his first term. They’re shocked, I tell you, absolutely shocked that the Democrats would dare to impede the nominations of so many judges and they are considering changing the Senate rules to rule out the use of the filibuster so this outrage cannot be repeated. And the Democrats, on the other hand, are positively overcome with the vapors at the notion that the Republicans would consider changing the venerable senate rules for their short-term political gain. But let’s set the wayback machine, shall we?
While Bush has had 10 nominees not receive a vote on the Senate floor due to filibusters or other political maneuvering by Democrats, Bill Clinton had 60 nominees who didn’t even receive a hearing before the Judiciary committee, much less a vote on the Senate floor. And the Democrats were shocked, shocked!, at such shameful treatment of judicial nominations. In fact, in 1995, Democratic senators Harkin and Lieberman proposed the same rule change that Senate Republicans are now considering to prevent Republicans from using the Senate rules to block an up or down vote on such nominations.
Time and time again, I return to Mencken’s statement that democracy is the only truly amusing form of government ever invented. The amusement is in watching grown men go on TV and say things they know are hypocritical and false, and in watching their partisan followers lap it up mindlessly. Neither party cares a bit about intellectual honesty or consistency. Politics elevates sophistry to an art form.