continues on campus this morning, and the kids are doing a real filibuster — the full filibuster treatment: the whole Mr. Smith Goes to Washington kit and caboodle treatment.
The best public relations thing the Republicans can do is to challenge the Democrats to do exactly that on the floor of the Senate. As William Kristol explains,
There is no rationale for a filibuster, however, when the Senate is acting under Article 2 in advising and consenting to presidential nominations. As Crockett points out, here the president is “the originator and prime mover. If he wants to make the process more burdensome, perhaps through lengthy interviews or extraordinary background checks, he can.” The Senate’s role is to accept or reject the president’s nominees, just as the president has a responsibility to accept or reject a bill approved by both houses of Congress. There he does not have the option of delay. Nor should Congress have the option of delay in what is fundamentally an executive function of filling the nonelected positions in the federal government. In other words–to quote Crockett once more–“it is inappropriate for the Senate to employ a delaying tactic normally used in internal business–the construction of legislation–in a nonlegislative procedure that originates in a coequal branch of government.”
This is why the filibuster has historically not been used on nominations. This is the constitutional logic underlying 200-plus years of American political practice. This is why as recently as 14 years ago the possibility of filibustering Clarence Thomas, for example, was not entertained even by a hostile Democratic Senate that was able to muster 48 votes against him. The American people seem to grasp this logic. In one recent poll, 82 percent said the president’s nominees deserve an up or down vote on the Senate floor.
Bill Frist probably isn’t a very good poker player.
What I proposed on April 23 last month is that the Republicans, rather than deny the Democrats their filibuster, should call their bluff: have the Democrats hold an hours-to-no-end filibuster (and best yet, on each and every judicial nominee) where the weakness of their arguments is shown for all the world to see, on C-Span and whatever cable news station broadcasts the session.
I want no wishy-washy closing of the Senate floor. I want “the real McCoy” filibuster. The New Media awaits.
Dick Morris, on April 29, and TigerHawk yesterday are in agreement on this point. As it turns out, last November Jack Kemp was saying, The filibuster rules of the Senate do not need to be changed, they simply need to be honored in practice rather than merely in the abstract.
It looks like the only way we’ll get our wish is by joining the campus filibuster. According to Michael Barone,
Back in January, Senate Democrats were saying that they would shut down the Senate if Republicans made this rule change. Now they are singing a different tune. Minority Whip Richard Durbin, one of the most partisan Democrats, assures everyone that they’re not really going to obstruct very much at all.
The reason is that Democrats know that obstruction does not play well at the polls. Voters at some point ask what you stand for. Old Media are not going to paint Democrats as obstructionists. But New Media can. For years, Sen. Tom Daschle received positive coverage in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, South Dakota’s dominant newspaper. But during the 2004 campaign, several local anti-Daschle blogs took on Daschle and the paper, and circulated stories that put him in a less favorable light. Daschle had won seven elections in South Dakota. He lost in 2004.
Darn. Just imagine the blogosphere coverage — the round-ups, the video clips, the blogbursts, the fiskings, the caption contests!.
The stuff blogger’s dreams are made of.