Terry Neal Responds to the Criticism of His Sloppy Column on Judicial Filibusters
The other day I told you that Washington Post staffer Terry Neal had written:
Eleven years ago, when Republicans were still in the minority, Sen. Orin [sic] Hatch (R-Utah) said the filibuster tool should be used because “the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.”
This is not true. Hugh Hewitt caught it, and whacked Neal good.
Today Neal responded to Hugh and to the Power Line folks, who had also written about his deceptive column. Neal’s explanation begins:
In my original text, I simply wrote that Hatch had noted that [the] filibuster could be used by the minority to protect the interests of those the minority represents. In editing, the world “should” was added, and I didn’t do my due diligence to catch it before publication.
You gotta love that. Editors didn’t check the context of the quote, or catch the misspelling of a prominent Senator’s name — but they did change a “could” to a “should,” converting a somewhat misleading statement into a highly misleading one.
Neal goes on to defend his column and position. It’s too annoying to reproduce here; you can go to Power Line if you want to read the whole thing. But there are two points that are worth highlighting.
The first is that Neal stubbornly and wrongly maintains that Hatch was being a hypocrite:
The larger point, and the one I was really trying to make, is that even though Hatch was clearly not supporting the filibuster in this particular instance, he was making the point that [the] filibuster is something that could be used for a legitimate purpose. Today he argues that it is unconstitutional.
This is refuted well by Hugh Hewitt:
Look, this just isn’t correct, so Terry Neal’s “larger point” is wrong, and Mr. Neal should know this. Hatch is arguing that that the filibuster has never been appropriately used against judicial nominees, and Hatch has never argued that the legislative filibuster is unconstitutional. Here is one of many examples of Hatch making his views known. It was obtained by googling “Orrin Hatch and filibuster.” I think Terry Neal should do an interview with Orrin Hatch if he doesn’t want to do the work of discovering what Hatch has actually said on the subject, but it compounds Neal’s original error to assert, in a column or an e-mail that “[t]oday [Hatch] argues that it is unconstitutional.”
Second, Hatch’s original point, in his speech that Neal didn’t bother to read, was that the Democrats had held unnecessary cloture votes to manufacture the phony image that Republicans were filibustering, when they really weren’t. Neal has fallen for that tactic hook, line, and sinker — by saying that “many Republicans, including Bill Frist, voted against cloture in attempted filibusters of Clinton nominees in the ’90s.” That’s just wrong. Not every cloture vote indicates that a real filibuster is taking place. But it’s what the Democrats want Neal to think.
Terry, if you want to understand the difference between cloture votes and filibusters, Sen. Hatch explained it pretty well. You should have read the speech before, when you quoted from it in your column. Why don’t you go ahead and read it now? I’ll make it really easy for you: just click on this link.