Fulcrum Ruminations

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Disgusting Theatre

Crikey, it's been a while, eh? That whole "real life" thing getting in the way. You want the details, go to Wordforge and read my blog thread in the Blue Room.

I don't know about you, gentle reader, but this thing going on in the Senate right now is simply disgraceful. This is naked partisan ugliness at its very worst. My problem is that I can see both sides of the issue.

I'm speaking of the fight over judicial nominations and the filibuster, of course.

Now, the way the Democrats tell it, the Evil Republicans want to ramrod thru a bunch of sinister federal judges who will turn the country into a dark and repressive quasi-Soviet state where cherished freedoms are crushed. The way the Republicans tell it, the Evil Democrats want to prevent any judicial appointments from going to anyone who isn't an unholy love child of hippie socialist dingbats who will turn the country into a pot-smoking nightmare of Political Correctness and moral relativism.

They're both wrong, of course, altho the Democrats do seem to like appointing liberal activist judges who will give them in the courts what they can't win at the ballot box, and the Republicans like to appoint strict Constitutionalists who seldom are willing to recognize that things change.

But the current argument has almost nothing to do with that. It's just an excuse for a blatant power struggle. At the heart of the struggle is the filibuster.

The filibuster is not a constitutional artifact. It's a parliamentary device introduced by a long-ago rules committee which is intended to prevent the "tyranny of the majority". Which is to say, it's meant to keep the majority party from completely bulldozing the minority. It's one of those pesky "checks and balances" things, only it was sort of shoehorned into the Senate's Book Of Playing Nice a few decades after the adoption of the constitution.

All well and good, and the filibuster has a long and storied history in the upper chamber. However, using it to derail a crucial Senate duty (the appointment of judges and Justices of the various federal courts) is beyond the scope of what it should be. There are judicial appointments that haven't even gotten to committee after almost ten years. That seems a bit extreme to me. You would think that at some point the other side could muster the votes to kill the filibuster, but apparently not.

Now the Republicans are threatening to sharply limit the filibuster and the Democrats are crying foul all over the place. Rightly so, too . . . altho not a constitutionally empowered device, it is nevertheless a critical mechanism for keeping one party from going completely loco. There's some fairly obvious compromises . . . change the rules of the thing so that a slightly smaller majority vote is needed to kill a filibuster, or define its use a little more so that if a judicial nomination is held up for more than, say, two election cycles it automatically terminates and there has to be an up-or-down vote. Or if a nomination is held up by filibuster for some period of borderline-ridiculous length, the nomination must be withdrawn. Something. Something to rein in these rampaging partisans.

Sometimes, my readers, I think the Senators forget that we send them to Washington to do the nation's business, not their party's dirtywork.

Meanwhile, as this assinine spectacle goes on and on and on, I can only shake my head ruefully as I've done so many times before. And hope that somehow this ends before too much damage is done to our republic. Because this isn't a balance point. It's a class of kindergarteners playing "king of the hill" and it's pretty sad.


Anonymous ugliest said...

Hi Lanz, I've been searching around for ugliest related blogs to get some ideas and possibly trade links with. I found this entry (this post) in my search so I thought I'd post a quick note to let you know. Anyway I have a new blog called Ugly Blog, so feel free to check it out but don't feel obligated. Take care - Eric

1:21 AM  

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