Patterico's Pontifications


New York Times Prints Op-Ed Supporting Filibuster (Unexpectedly!)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 am

The New York Times, facing a Republican Senate and President, today prints a shock op-ed piece arguing that the filibuster is a venerable tool that should not be discarded. (Yes, I’m joking about it being shocking.) The piece is titled Why Republicans Shouldn’t Weaken the Filibuster:

The Senate has historically been the one place in our government where legislative minorities are protected, with rules to check overzealous majorities.

The twin pillars of the body’s uniqueness are unlimited debate and unfettered amendments. The minority can almost always have some influence on legislative outcomes. This has often made the Senate the cradle of compromise.

. . . .

It’s important to keep the filibuster. With it, presidents must try to win the minority’s support for nominees. This has helped to keep nominations in the judicial mainstream.

But wait. Wasn’t it Harry Reid who changed the filibuster rule for nominees? You might have thought that, but let the op-ed writer mansplain it for you:

It is often written that the Senate “changed” the filibuster rule. It did nothing of the sort. Democrats voted to interpret the words “three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn” to mean a simple majority.

(Go ahead and read that paragraph again, as many times as you need to, for it to make sense. I’ll wait right here.)

They didn’t change the rule, you see. They merely interpreted it to mean something other than what it says.

It’s a lovely little piece of pro-filibuster rhetoric. Filibuster good! Go, compromise! Hooray, deliberation! Down with “overzealous majorities”!

I wondered: where is the impassioned attack on the filibuster in the pages of the New York Times? You might be surprised to learn that you can find one. All you have to do is turn back the clock to November 21, 2013, when there was a Democrat Senate and a Democrat President. At that time, the official position of the New York Times was: nuke that filibuster!

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.

. . . .

Republicans warned that the rule change could haunt the Democrats if they lose the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. (The practice barely existed before the 1970s.)

Filibuster bad! Yay up-or-down vote! Hooray for democracy! Down with obstructionism!

For further hypocrisy, let’s dig even deeper into the past. Let’s consult The New York Times editorial board on May 18, 2005, editorializing against the judicial filibuster, at a time when we had a Republican President and Senate majority:

Of all the hollow arguments Senate Republicans have made in their attempt to scrap the opposition’s right to have a say on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the one that’s most hypocritical insists that history is on their side in demanding a “simple up-or-down vote” on the Senate floor. Republicans and Democrats have used a variety of tactics, from filibuster threats to stealthy committee inaction on individual nominations, in blocking hundreds of presidential appointments across history, including about one in five Supreme Court nominees. This is all part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch.

. . . .

Democrats have hardly been obstructionists in their constitutional role of giving advice and consent; they have confirmed more than 200 Bush nominees, while balking at a mere seven who should be blocked on the merits, not for partisan reasons. This is a worthy fight, and the filibuster is a necessary weapon, considering that these are lifetime appointments to the powerful appellate judiciary, just below the Supreme Court. In more than two centuries, only 11 federal judges have been impeached for abusive court behavior. Clearly, uninhibited Senate debate in the deliberative stage, with the minority’s voice preserved, is a crucial requirement.

. . . .

A few moderate senators from both parties – realizing that the Senate’s prestige is at stake, as much as its history – are seeking a compromise. We hope President Bush will step in to help find a solution. Otherwise, warns his fellow Republican Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the result will be the harmful crimping of minority rights in a proud deliberative body and “a dark, protracted era of divisive partisanship.”

Filibuster good! Go, compromise! Hooray, deliberation! Down with “overzealous majorities”!

And now, for the cherry on top of this hypocrisy sundae. When another Democrat was president, in 1995, they felt the same way they did when Obama was President:

Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate convictions, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, dooming any measure that cannot command the 60 required votes. . . . Now is the perfect moment for them to unite with like-minded Democrats to get rid of an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.

Filibuster bad! Yay up-or-down vote! Hooray for democracy! Down with obstructionism!

You could get whiplash trying to follow the way they careen back and forth between positions — unless you kept their actual principle in mind: we support whatever helps Democrats. Then their positions become very easy to follow.

To be fair, today’s piece is an op-ed, not an editorial. But there is a reason that they solicited an op-ed piece from “a co-author of’“Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate.’” That reason probably isn’t because they just like to air all possible positions. The reason just might have something to do with Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

I bet the traditional flip-flop of the official house position of the editorial board will be coming soon in an editorial, likely in the next couple of months.

If they had any shame, they wouldn’t even consider it. But if you think they have shame, you may want to re-read this post.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

51 Responses to “New York Times Prints Op-Ed Supporting Filibuster (Unexpectedly!)”

  1. Who could have predicted it?

    Dan S (e312ac)

  2. You trying to sway my position on the congressional ethics board?

    Consider me swayed. Heck I just swerved. Without engaging the turn indicator.

    papertiger (c8116c)

  3. Well, hang on, P: To be fair, the NYT likes to claim that their op-ed pages is a space where the reader is exposed to opinions that often run contrary to those of the editorial board (though not too contrary: Heaven forbid they publish an argument in favor of limiting immigration or restricting abortion). I don’t find it all that hypocritical that they allow this hack who has apparently spent most of his adult life working for lefty Senators before decamping to a faculty position at the Brown University Echo Chamber (he probably had a job lined up for this year with Senator Russ Feingold, but those plans naturally got thwarted by the voters of Wisconsin) to make a hyper-partisan argument against weakening the filibuster, seeing as it is the typical mindless drivel that they feed to their progressive audience.

    JVW (6e49ce)

  4. I’m watching Vice President elect Mike Pence addressing the nation. First order of business repealing Obamacare. It’s like a dream come true.

    Someone pinch me.

    papertiger (c8116c)

  5. I bet the traditional flip-flop of the official house position of the editorial board will be coming soon in an editorial, likely in the next couple of months.

    But you’re probably right about this.

    JVW (6e49ce)

  6. If Mr Donald, Speaker Ryan, and Leader McConnell were to hold a joint press conference specifically to espouse the virtues of eating broccoli, the New York Times would publish an editorial opposing it.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  7. If Mr Donald, Speaker Ryan, and Leader McConnell were to hold a joint press conference specifically to espouse the virtues of eating broccoli, the New York Times would publish an editorial opposing it.

    And for once I would be in full agreement with them.

    JVW (6e49ce)

  8. truly a True Detective!

    Colonel Haiku (94c32c)

  9. however silly they may seem, Meghan’s cowardly and increasingly erratic daddy takes these editorials very, very seriously

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  10. John Kerry would announce that he was for the virtues of eating broccoli before he was against it!

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  11. cs–And lurch would say he was wearing his lucky hat!! It was seared into his memory.

    elissa (b4eebe)

  12. #11 elissa, that’s right, John Kerry spent Christmas in Cambodia — before any of our other troops did!

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  13. @Cruz Supporter:John Kerry spent Christmas in Cambodia

    My favorite MSM defense of that was when they said since the river is the border, John Kerry could say that.

    The river actually is perpendicular to the border, so no. But why lie about something so obvious, that anyone can check if they have access to map? Because (D).

    before any of our other troops did!

    And he heard Nixon deny it before Nixon was President!

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  14. One gets whiplash with these people

    narciso (d1f714)

  15. We must just pray that when your head’s finished turning, your face is to the front again.

    Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons

    Chuck Bartowski (bc1c71)

  16. “Democrats voted to interpret the words “three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn” to mean a simple majority.”

    I…. I…. Oh, @#$%&!

    Arizona CJ (191c8a)

  17. They don’t really filibuster, they just threaten to and then run to CNN/MSNBC/FNC to blather away. McConnell should bring out the cots and set them up in the hallways and see how long Schumer and friends are willing to babble away before allowing the majority to vote. The Senate doesn’t need to nuke the filibuster, they just need to make the minority put up or shut up.

    crazy (d3b449)

  18. It wouldn’t surprise me if this became the tipping point for GOP Senate ‘leadership’ to reinstate the filibuster, not just back to where it was, back beyond what the Dems undid.

    MJN1957 (6f981a)

  19. Here’s the New York Times arguing against afree market in education:

    Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice.

    Of copurse onme pouint getting lost – here and with medical care , is taht t takes time for a market to take off and there will not be amarket until they start advertgising, on price and on quality.

    Sammy Finkelman (643dcd)

  20. @Sammy Finkelman: Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed

    More fake news. 37% expressed uncertainty and 21% disagreed.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  21. Cauliflower baked to golden brown in an open glass baking dish with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic (powder) is very good.

    nk (dbc370)

  22. A funny thing about that jar, it has a strong air of Jayson Blair, according to buzzfeed.

    narciso (d1f714)

  23. for no cauliflower had I. And so that evening I retired early, pensive but quietly resolute.

    I have just the dish I thought, and the hand of destiny is moving even now to deliver unto it a cauliflower.

    Like Mr. Michael you just gotta have faith.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  24. If 37% “expressed uncertainty” (about an economics question but I’d bet they are sure bout AGW) and 21% disagreed (they obviously need remedial Econ101) I’m sure they all send their kids to public school. Did anybody bother to ask? I know I would and I would check to make sure the bastards weren’t lying.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  25. the slimy smelly cia poofterboy poopy-poop running down failmerica’s leg?

    There is hope mi amigos!

    Just in case the accusations that president-elect Donald Trump is a puppet of the Kremlin, intent on destabilizing and weakening the US weren’t loud enough, moments ago the WSJ assured these would hit an unprecedented level with a report that Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, prompted by a belief that it has “become bloated and politicized.”

    It’s not just the ODNI: one of the people familiar with Trump’s planning told the WSJ his advisors also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment on the plan.

    oh to be clean again

    He is so good.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  26. You don’t bake the cauliflower whole. You cut it up into thumb-sized pieces.

    nk (dbc370)

  27. I’m so glad you clarified. I kinda wondered.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  28. That seems tasty and I done even likely cauliflowr

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. Somebody else’s recipe with picture. I skip the thyme, use black pepper instead of red, the glass baking dish instead of baking sheet, and in my old gas oven 375 degrees is enough to give it color.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. i kinda wanna dust it with parmesan

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  31. That would be my view as well.

    narciso (d1f714)

  32. That should be good.

    nk (dbc370)

  33. Since we’re on the topic of food, Rex Tillerson was recently spotted doing his own shopping for a few items at a Safeway store.

    Can’t imagine John Forbes Kerry putting a box of (appears to be) Raisin Bran in a little handcart.
    Teresa, if they place the peanut butter on the same aisle as the jelly, then why doesn’t Safeway place the milk on the same aisle as the cereal?

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  34. Good point, Trump Supporter. Clearly Tillerson will be a good Secretary of State, what with the buying his own Raisin Bran and all.

    Leviticus (70ca80)

  35. Good point, Trump Supporter. Clearly Tillerson will be a good Secretary of State, what with the buying his own Raisin Bran and all.

    I think you’re missing the larger point, Leviticus. Someone who actually deigns to go out among the hoi polloi and interact with them and perhaps even listen to what they think is probably less likely to fall for the cloistered, self-regarding idea that the Iranians can be charmed into giving up nuclear weapons or that Hamas will be a legitimate partner in a two-state solution. You have to leave the echo chamber once in a while to hear these sort of things.

    JVW (6e49ce)

  36. Kerry eats ColonBlow®… a single bowl contains 1,000 times the fiber a box of Raisin Bran has!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  37. Kerry – much like the young New Mexican pup – is full of sh*t.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  38. Lol coronello, one recalls how they regarded condi rice, even though she was a polymath, accomplished pianist et al

    narciso (d1f714)

  39. I just love how Yale-educated John Kerry can’t figure out why the milk isn’t kept on the cereal aisle.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  40. Has Kerry just been cereal-boated!?!?!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  41. Because one is wet and the other is dry, there is powdered milk of course

    narciso (d1f714)

  42. Rex Tillerson is worth half a billion in American dollars and I don’t know how much in rubles.

    Like I said when Dana posted the encomium about his jury service, there’s going to be one very expert public relations campaign to make him look like a regular guy and not an oil oligarch.

    nk (dbc370)

  43. Cereal-boated! (LOL)
    And to express his outrage, John Kerry will throw the little toy that came inside the cereal box over the fence.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  44. I’ll never forget John Kerry’s photo op in the bunny spacesuit.

    elissa (f40916)

  45. “Democrats voted to interpret the words “three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn” to mean a simple majority.”

    Thinking it over – I didn’t check – maybe he’s telling the truth.

    This sounds like a possible Parlimentary manuever. Maybe they couldn’t repeal the rule, but someone could make a point of order, get a ruling from the Chair, disgaree with the Chair’s opinion and have a vote on whetehr to to overrule him.

    So, if this is the case, the Senate voted (by a party line vote) that 60% = 50%. This is asomething worth checking. It must be somewhere in the Congressional record, if true.

    Anotehr famous Parliamentary tactic is stopping the clock. Say, a session is supposed to end at midnight on a certain day. They vote to stop the clock.

    In contrast, the speaker of the Illinois Legislature unilaterally stopped the clock at midnight on the last day of its session on June 30, 1988, to allow further debate before approving money to replace Comiskey Park, a decision that ultimately passed by one vote.[10] Had this maneuver not been done, the White Sox presumably would have moved to Florida. Stadium consultant Marc Ganis noted, “As the clock struck down in St. Petersburg, they started popping champagne corks and didn’t realize that the speaker of the house can literally stop the clock in Illinois…

    Sammy Finkelman (eb0eea)

  46. nk–
    == to make him look like a regular guy ==

    At least they’ll stand a chance with Tillerson. The mere idea of the Kerry gigolo EVER being seen as a regular guy was slim and none.

    elissa (f40916)

  47. I’d rather have him for President, I confess that. He is an exceptional person of great ability and accomplishment.

    nk (dbc370)

  48. The Titanic band plays Nearer My God to Thee in the background as a newsclip montage about the decimation of the Democrat Party fills the screen. Enjoy!

    elissa (f40916)

  49. Colonel Haiku has the “by osmosis” card, I must remind myself 😄

    urbanleftbehind (862d03)

  50. == to make him look like a regular guy ==

    Actually this makes Rex Tillerson look like he’s in over his head.

    Here he is, carrying around an overloaded shopping box like that, and he doesn’t have enough sense to get a shopping cart. I know, in some cases, the shopping carts are out of the way, maybe around the corner in front of the store, or almost hidden around a coorner behind the gates outsid ethe store, or they are missing (too many people having taken too many shopping carts home) or all in use, but this what he is doing is impractical. And even if he had less groceries, he still should et ashopping cart. They don’t make it that much more difficult to get around the supermarket. Ad if that store doesn’t have any shopping carts, he shouldn’t go there to buy more than two or three items.

    I never use these little boxes with a handle, except sometimes in one store, and what I’ll do is leave them where they are or place one near a register, and carry back and forth grocery items to put in – and never more than about 6 or 7 differnt items, although maybe more than ne of some of the. There’s a pretty good chance nobody will take anything out of the box – and besides you haven’t paid for it yet, so it is not a real problem if somebody “steals” anything, and if there is something you want that there’s only one of, or no more on the shelf, carry it around with you n your hands. The store may possibly move it away, but not far – you’re not gone that long – and that can also happen with a shoppiong cat you leave near the register because you discovered amistake or a bad item or something left out.

    This is how it works: Get pineapple jiuce. Put in. The first item is probably not far from where you will “abandon” the box. Get Orange juice, walk back and put in. Get sour cream and maybe other dairy, put in. Get pasta, loooking to see what’s there, and if something os there, carefully selecting what kind, and go back and put in. Get bananas possibly, if they are cheap, put in. Get some kind of laundry product, put in. That’s about the maximum. If more is needed, get a second box. They’ll tolerate it, especially if you are the only person doing it. Then lift it up and put on the register or pack it out. Maybe put a pie directly onto the register.

    But here Rex Tillerson, looking like a fool, goes around carrying the whole overloaded thing that you can’t put one more thing into, around with him all through the store. what if he sees an item he would like to buy? Does he carefully manage it and re-arrange and re-package the items so it doesn’t fall out? You would think a highly paid executive like him would be able to think of a more innovative solution. Maybe slightly risky, but not too much.

    And if they don’t give you plastic shopping bags, or make deliveries, don’t go there, except maybe for really, really big specials.

    Sammy Finkelman (6c2cdd)

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