This is just perfect, Bill Frist babbling on the floor of the Senate yesterday trying to explain why 5 years ago he was voting to sustain a filibuster against Richard Paez, a Clinton judicial nominee, when today he keeps claiming that it’s unprecedented, unconstitutional and obstructionist to do the very same thing:
SEN. SCHUMER: Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?
SEN. FRIST: The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination – we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe – a point – and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way…
The issue is not cloture votes per se, it’s the partisan, leadership-led use of cloture votes to kill – to defeat – to assassinate these nominees. That’s the difference. Cloture has been used in the past on this floor to postpone, to get more info, to ask further questions.
Someone needs to remind him that the Paez nomination had been waiting for a vote for 4 years at the time, so his excuse is nonsense. And that if something is unconstitutional, as he claims, then it’s unconstitutional to do once, not just multiple times. I’d love to hear the opposite too. I’d love to hear Sen. Lieberman babble as he tries to explain why 10 years ago he said:
“I know that some of our colleagues will oppose the alteration, the amendment, that Senator Harkin and I are proposing on the grounds that the filibuster is a very special prerogative that is necessary to protect the rights of a minority. But in doing so, and I say this respectfully, I believe they are not being true to the intention of the Framers of the Constitution, which is that the Congress was the institution in which the majority was to rule, not to be effectively tyrannized by a minority.”
Senators Kerry, Kennedy, Boxer, Feingold and 15 others voted to end all filibusters in the Senate, not just for judicial nominees, in 1995. And every single current Republican voted against it. But they’ve exchanged scripts now, reading the same words they feigned such outrage at a few years ago. And the followers of both parties lap it up without question, their short memories and partisanship-addled brains shrugging off the cognitive dissonance.
Mr. Mencken, where are you now? Never have your words been truer: “The two parties spend most of their time and effort attempting to convince us that the other is corrupt and unfit to lead, and each succeeds admirably at this task.”