January 28, 2006

REACTOR MELTDOWN:

Clinton to support Alito filibuster: Says she’ll join Sen. Kerry in blocking Alito’s nomination, putting her at odds with top Democrats (GLENN THRUSH, January 27, 2006, Newsday)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday announced she'll join potential 2008 presidential rival John Kerry in voting to filibuster against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, just as top Democratic leaders predicted the effort is likely doomed.

With three Democratic senators pledging support for Alito, the New Jersey conservative seems virtually assured of being confirmed by the full Senate Monday or Tuesday, party leaders predicted Friday. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters in Washington that "everyone knows" Senate Democrats couldn't muster the 40 votes needed to support a last-ditch filibuster.

"History will show that Judge Alito's nomination is the tipping point against constitutionally-based freedoms and protections we cherish as individuals and as a nation," Clinton wrote in a statement during a fundraising stop in Seattle.


This tendency to react to immediate events and mere atmospherics was the fatal weakness of her husband too. You can't allow yourself to be swayed by bloggers and Cabana Boy from a position that serves your long-term political interest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 28, 2006 8:35 AM
Comments

Rattled. They have completely lost the initiative and are reacting, blindly, to our side's scheme of maneuver.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 28, 2006 8:48 AM

The Kos/Soros/DU Axis of Moonbattery is issuing orders to jump, and the Senate Dems are asking how high.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 28, 2006 9:14 AM

Kerry is an idiot, but he's not stupid enough to do something like this on his own. Those running the show must have done their homework and counted noses before letting him open his mouth.

I think there's a good chance that Alito will not be confirmed and that Bush's next nominee won't have much of a paper trail.

Posted by: erp at January 28, 2006 9:26 AM

Do you have any evidence that he isn't an idiot? He lost three debates to one.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2006 9:33 AM

Dumb move on the missus' part, but I'm guessing the calculation is the Alito vote will only be a minor notation in the 2008 general election campaign while the more fervent voices on the left are demanding some sort of totem from Hillary to assure them she hasn't moved to the right of the Federalist Society. Better a meaningless fillibuster than to change her voting position on Iraq and the WOT, which definitely will be a factor in the '08 general.

Posted by: John at January 28, 2006 9:33 AM

If they do manage to scrounge up 41 votes against cloture -- which I think is highly unlikely -- the important question is whether the Gang of Seven Republicans will vote to get rid of the filibuster. If so, then the President can nominate anyone he can get 50 votes for and we should be supporting Senator Kerredy with all our hearts.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 28, 2006 9:53 AM

oj. Who said Kerry isn't an idiot?

Posted by: erp at January 28, 2006 9:54 AM

erp:

Sorry, any evidence that he isn't "stupid enough"?

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2006 10:02 AM

David:

Interesting to hear Senator Pryor directly rebut your misunderstanding of the deal:

"Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., long an "undecided" vote on Alito, announced Friday that he will oppose the filibuster. He was joined by Sens. Ken Salazar of Colorado and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

"While I personally cannot support Judge Alito's confirmation on the Supreme Court, there is not a smoking gun in his past that would warrant 'extraordinary circumstances' and subsequently a filibuster against his nomination," Pryor said in a statement. "


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/01/28/MNGAIGV0U71.DTL

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2006 10:04 AM
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday announced she'll join potential 2008 presidential rival John Kerry in voting to filibuster against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, just as top Democratic leaders predicted the effort is likely doomed.
I suspect those two facts are linked and John is right. If the filibuster is immediately broken, no one except the loonies and the hard core will even remember Clinton was involved, leaving her far left credentials shored up at no cost in the mainstream.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 28, 2006 10:14 AM

Yes, if by "directly rebut" you mean "not address."

Our disagreement is about whether the seven Reps can second-guess the seven Dems if the Dems decide that extraordinary circumstances exist. I say that the Reps agreed not to vote for the nuclear option in this Congress even if the Dems filibuster. You say that, if they filibuster, the seven Reps (assuming they support the nominee) will vote for the nuclear option. I hope that you're right, but that's clearly not what the deal says.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 28, 2006 10:41 AM

OJ, David

Don't quite understand the bickering between you two, but there will not be a "nuclear option" in the present congress. Not enough votes for it and "many" Republican Senators and all Democrats will oppose it.

Posted by: h-man at January 28, 2006 11:16 AM

the analysis never gets that far because the 7 Democrats foreclosed the possibility of filibustering nearly anyone.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2006 11:36 AM

h:

Yes, that's what David is in denial about because of his McCainphobia.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2006 11:37 AM

The proper term is "misomccainia". We don't "fear" him, we "hate" him. Please impute the proper motivations to our behavior.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 28, 2006 12:52 PM

OJ: If the 7 Dems are not going to filibuster, fine -- although it makes the deal meaningless. The whole difference between us is that you seem to think that the deal allows the 7 Reps to vote for the nuclear option if they disagree about the existence of "extraordinary circumstances" while I can read where it expressly says the opposite.

H: Yes, the Republican moderates are wimps and that's why McCain was allowed to stab the president in the back. That doesn't make it better.

However, the nuclear option requires only 50 Senators, so if the 7 Reps did vote for the nuclear option, it would almost certainly pass. That's why their agreement that they wouldn't vote for it no matter what the Dems do is such a bad deal.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 28, 2006 12:57 PM

"I can read" is the giveaway.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2006 1:04 PM

David-- It doesn't matter how you read it, it matters how Lindsey Graham and Mike DeWine read it. It sounds to me like they agree with OJ.

Posted by: Timothy at January 28, 2006 1:06 PM

oj. No evidence, just woman's intuition that he was following orders.

Posted by: erp at January 28, 2006 1:06 PM

SNA (Soros, Neas & Assoc.)want at least to make the losing margin so narrow that "a few good Democrats" becomes a credible campaign slogan this Fall.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 28, 2006 1:39 PM

THIS MOVE BY HILLARY DEMONSTRATES WHY SHE WOULD be a terrible president, and will certainly be a part of any campaign against her. it looks like the dems are heading for a nasty split, and being wrong on everything, she will be damaged by it all.

Posted by: toe at January 28, 2006 2:48 PM

Following orders? He may have been asserting his independence; he seemed in an awful rush to issue his filibuster edict, as even the White House noted "from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland...a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps." At a conference of Tranzis, no less. Maybe he was trying to beat Hillary to the punch. She seems spooked by the recent "Anyone But Hillary" talk.

Remember this is a guy who has been running for president since the training wheels came off his tricycle. He changed his middle name to make his initials "JFK", filmed his first campaign commercials in 'Nam, went medal-hunting and got his PT-109 ticket stamped there. Just like Hilly, and unlike W., he believes being president is his God-given right. He also believes he was robbed in Ohio when in fact, it was Wisconsin that was stolen for him.

Anyway, I hope he succeeds; as the saying goes, five'll get you ten--and 41 votes will get you 50 + 1 to end the slave-o-buster forever.

But the real question is this: Forget Eric/Julia; Karl/Kos...same room/same time? Anyone?

Posted by: Noel at January 28, 2006 3:24 PM

Timothy: Thus my first comment in this thread.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 28, 2006 3:39 PM

This move by Hillary! seems odd because there's no reason for it other than to cater to the left end. And there's no reason to cater to the left end except to sew up the Dem primary. But the conventional wisdom is that the Dem nomination is hers for the asking, so why bother?

Here's a thought: sometimes smart people (us) make the mistake of attributing shrewd motives to stupid people's behavior. Could it be that there is no subtle design here, just Hillary! being erratic?

Posted by: Tom at January 29, 2006 9:07 AM

Another thought: Remember in 2000, Gore called Bush, conceded the election, then blindsided Bush a while later with news that he was challenging the Florida outcome. The idea was to get the challenge rolling while the Bush team was preparing no countermeasures. I wonder if the Dems are doing something similar here: Loudly announce that Alito's nomination is all but assured, to put the Admin and Senate Repubs off guard, then blindside them with a filibuster. They're definitely that underhanded; the question is if they're disciplined enough to keep such a maneuver a secret for long enough.

Posted by: Tom at January 29, 2006 9:12 AM

Tom: That's why the key is what the Gang of 14 does. The Dems can't filibuster without the 7 Dems in the Gang, unless they get 3 Reps to vote against cloture. If they get 3 Reps, then the filibuster will be considered "bipartisan" and the Dems will escape the blame anyway.

If the 7 Dems do vote for a filibuster, then the question is what will the 7 Reps do. If they don't vote for the nuclear option, it fails. OJ thinks that they are free to vote for the nuclear option if the Dems filibuster without the excuse of what the Reps consider to be extraordinary circumstances. I think that the deal says that the 7 Reps won't vote for the nuclear option even if the Dems filibuster.

But here I really do think that cloture will pass with 60 votes, so the issue will be avoided.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 29, 2006 12:37 PM

"I think" Your departure from the plain meaning of language ill becomes you.

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2006 1:02 PM

Get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

The language is here.

Our controversy boils down to Part II:

Part II: Commitments for Future Nominations

A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

I say that "each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist" means that the 7 Reps can't second-guess the 7 Dems if they choose to filibuster.

I also say that this language "In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes" means that the Dems "consideration" for the Reps agreeing not to vote for the nuclear option is their promise not to vote for a filibuster absent extraordinary circumsances. In other words, the Dem's performance is complete upon their undertaking not to filibuster unless they believe that extraordinary circumstances exist, which belief the Reps cannot second-guess.

Your interpretation, that the Reps are free to vote for the nuclear option if the Reps conclude that extraordinary circumstances don't exist is a gloss on the agreement. As the agreement is not in any way enforceable, in case of a filibuster this comes down to what the Reps thinks it means. As I think that they don't want to vote for the nuclear option, I expect that they will adopt my position.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 29, 2006 2:04 PM

Not my interpretation, but the signatories themselves say that a filibuster in a non-extraordinary circumstance frees them to kill the filibuster.

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2006 3:57 PM

Byrd went into histrionics on Thursday because he doesn't want the filibuster eliminated. Reid, Obama, and other Democrats are trying to calm the waters because they know that 41 votes against cloture means that Frist will pull the trigger immediately.

I think Warner and Collins and Graham and perhaps even Specter realize that it is more important to let the majority of the Senate speak than to continue something the Constitution does not proscribe. Even if all 45 Senate Dems wanted to filibuster Alito, given that all things were equal, Frist would bury the filibuster on Tuesday afternoon.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 29, 2006 9:21 PM
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