Things are really out of control in America. Now the GOP is resorting to gunplay at the offices of one of our nation’s top newspapers. The evidence of this is clear. Just open up today’s Los Angeles Times.
Yesterday, the L.A. Times editorial page described the GOP’s threat to scrap filibusters of judicial nominees as an “attack on the judiciary”:
DeLay says he wants to hold Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, accountable for citing international laws in a recent majority opinion. And DeLay and his counterpart in the Senate, Bill Frist, are working to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations. Meanwhile, evangelical Christian leaders are looking for ways to strip funding from the courts of judges they don’t like.
These attacks on the judiciary threaten the constitutional separation of powers that has long allowed this nation’s government to function more effectively than those of some of its neighbors.
The editorial compared the nuclear option (and other “attacks on the judiciary”) to bribery of judges in South America, and declared Republicans’ treatment of judges characteristic of a “banana republic.”
After this editorial ran, the gunplay began. Late last night, commandos working for Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Tom DeLay executed a covert armed takeover of the editorial offices at The Times. While heavily armed mercenaries held Michael Kinsley and the rest of the editorial staff at bay with military rifles, an unnamed Senate Judiciary Committee staffer hurriedly typed out this morning’s editorial and sent it to the presses.
The editorial, titled Nuke the Filibuster, encourages the GOP to do away with the filibuster entirely. The Senate staffer did an excellent job of making it sound like it was really written by Times editors. It was a nice touch to begin with a slap at religious conservatives:
These are confusing days in Washington. Born-again conservative Christians who strongly want to see President Bush’s judicial nominees voted on are leading the charge against the Senate filibuster, and liberal Democrats are born-again believers in that reactionary, obstructionist legislative tactic. Practically every big-name liberal senator you can think of derided the filibuster a decade ago but now sees the error of his or her ways and will go to amusing lengths to try to convince you that the change of heart is explained by something deeper than the mere difference between being in the majority and being in the minority.
The staffer further mimicked the editors’ penchant for self-congratulation, including a phrase in which the editors praise themselves for their own intellectual consistency:
At the risk of seeming dull or unfashionable for not getting our own intellectual makeover, we still think judicial candidates nominated by a president deserve an up-or-down vote in the Senate. We hardly see eye to eye with the far right on social issues, and we oppose some of these judicial nominees, but we urge Republican leaders to press ahead with their threat to nuke the filibuster. The so-called nuclear option entails a finding by a straight majority that filibusters are inappropriate in judicial confirmation battles.
The editorial goes on to encourage the GOP to eliminate filibusters across the board, and not just for judicial nominees.
I have to say that the Senate staffer who wrote this editorial did an excellent job under trying circumstances. It can’t be easy to write such a piece while surrounded by mercenaries with automatic weapons. But he pulled it off in grand style.
My description of the armed takeover of the Times editorial offices is supposition, of course. But it makes more sense than any other explanation I can think of.