Thursday, May 19, 2005

The filibuster issue for dummies

Winds of Change pointed me to this definitive description of the nuclear/constitutional/Byrd option fight now taking place in the US Senate. Orson Scott Card boils it all down into simple terms so that even us dummies can understand. Left or right, conservative, liberal or moderate or whatever, you should all be able to understand and appreciate the strategies and risks in play for both sides of this issue. Card's article is dated May 1 and I don't understand why it hasn't been kicking around the blogosphere more.

Card lays out the issues involved, some history, the risks inherent to both options (to nuke or not to nuke) and states that the filibuster IS the nuclear option. He makes a point that is so logical that it had escaped me; that being that, while the changing of senate rules to prohibit filibustering presidential appointments is a move to cut off debate, all debate must be eventually cut off on every issue before the senate or there would never be a vote. Well, hell, I knew that, I think.

He even tells us how we arrived at this Mexican standoff:
The trouble is that the ideological lines on both sides are so clearly drawn that it is hard to think of any jurist of any ability or standing at all that could be acceptable to both sides. Either he has to be so utterly inoffensive as to be vacuous, or he has to be a "stealth" judge, who has been deliberately concealing his true beliefs in order to remain acceptable for higher office.

However you feel about the President or the judicial appointments he's likely to make, the fact is this: The only kind of judge likely to get appointed as things stand right now is either someone repugnant to the Republicans, or someone of no distinction or merit. This stalemate is endangering the quality of American jurisprudence.
He goes on to explain some of the future risks associated with both the exercise and the non-exercise of a successful vote to stop the filibusters:
But changing the Senate rules would remove one of the few brakes on radical change in the law. Regardless of your beliefs on this issue, it is a significant step, and not lightly to be undertaken.

Conservative Republicans who are eager to get the rule change should consider this: President Hillary Clinton with a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Now ... are you sure you want the filibuster on judicial appointments to be taken away?

Of course, there's this to consider: Do you believe, for one moment, that an extreme Leftist Congress, with the media on their side, would hesitate even for a second to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster in order to allow Hillary to appoint judges that would support her agenda?
These are pretty strong statements:
This is one of those watershed times in American politics where the personal courage of our politicians is in question.

Our system is not designed to put brave people into office. One has only to look at the career of Bill Clinton to remember that watching the polls and changing your conscience to fit them is a very effective strategy ... in the short
You know, that's true. It is difficult for us to imagine it today, but Abraham Lincoln, almost unanimously judged to be our greatest president by a long shot and a man whom very few would characterize as anything less than courageous, was vilified by almost 50% of the people when he was in office and that included many in the North as well as in Washington, inside his own cabinet, up to and including his Union Army commander. Monkey, ape and idiot were terms used to describe him which were thrown about at will. Who wants to put up with that?

Card leaves us with this question:
To end the filibuster of judicial appointments would be courageous.

But would it be prudent?
That is the question that the president, Frist and the Republicans must decide, assuming that they have the votes required.

Hey! Beldar returns.
Linked to Ace.

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