Jon Dougherty's The Commoner

Daily rants on the illogic of the political Left.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Dems Prove Frist's 'Nuclear Option' is Necessary

© 2004 Jon E. Dougherty
December 28, 2004

President Bush and congressional Republicans owe Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada a big thank-you. And to ensure it gets the attention of the American people, that "thank you" should be engraved and delivered on national television.

That's because he and fellow Democrats have proved, once again, why they are no longer the majority party. And as long as they continue to follow the strategy of "whine, stall, and block," they'll remain in the political abyss for years to come—not that that's such a bad thing.

The most recent proof comes in the form of continued threats by Senate Democrats to filibuster Bush's judicial nominees. Remember, of course, that obstinate Democrats successfully filibustered several of the president's judicial nominees during his first term.

Because of that threat, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has himself issued a threat: He says he'll change Senate rules to prevent Democrats from repeating those filibusters during Bush's second term.

About time.

Though they have accused the Bush administration of applying a conservative litmus test to potential jurists, Democrats won't allow any judges on the federal bench who don't fit a stereotypically liberal bent. That's what this all of this filibuster business is really about.

The reason Frist will have to change the Senate's rules is because though the GOP is returning in January with a larger majority than it had before Nov. 2 election, Republicans still don't have the 60 votes required to break filibusters.

Under the Senate's current rules, the Democrats can therefore continue to impose their will over the will of the president and the GOP, even though they don't own the White House and are the minority party in both Houses of Congress.

No less than Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. has threatened to "tie the Senate into procedural knots if Frist tries to change the filibuster rule," USA Today reported Monday.

Adds Reid spokesman Jim Manley, "It will be very difficult to get even the most routine work done in the Senate."

This is today's Democratic Party. Whine about Frist's threatened rule change while forcing his hand and leaving him no other options. Can I get a "duh?"

There's more hypocrisy. While Democrats are claiming Frist's rule changes—dubbed the "nuclear option"—would be unprecedented, they are failing to mention that Robert Byrd of West Virginia, as their Senate majority leader for six years, used the nuclear option four times.

In an article for the January issue of the Harvard Journal on Law and Public Policy, Martin Gold and Dimple Gupta write Byrd "developed four precedents that allowed a simple majority to change Senate procedures governing debate without altering the text of any standing rule." In each case Byrd was able to overcome stalling tactics by a Republican minority.

And there is this fact: Republicans have never used filibusters to stop liberal judges. As noted by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, "the failure to confirm Lyndon Johnson's nomination of Abe Fortas as chief justice was caused not by a Republican filibuster (as is now claimed), but by inability to get a majority of votes in a heavily Democratic Senate." He goes on to say "using the filibuster to block judges is something new, and the Frist scenario looks like the only way to end it."

Democrats hate the fact they're not in control of the nation's destiny any longer, but they seem incapable of understanding why. Americans are sick and tired of their whining, "my way or no way" attitude, as evidenced by the large gains the GOP made in November.

And each time they open their mouths, they prove once again just how out of touch they are with the American people.

Jon E. Dougherty is author of "Illegals: The Imminent Threat Posed by Our Unsecured U.S.-Mexico Border," and a correspondent for


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