You may have heard that Senate Republicans are going to bring one of Bush’s judicial nominees to the floor this week, which will get filibustered by Democrats, which will cause the GOP to change the rules to allow an ‘up or down’ vote, at which point Dems have said they’ll slow down Senate business to a crawl.
While the whole thing is an unprecedented attempt at a power grab by the GOP, and specifically Majority Leader Bill Frist who’s pandering to the utlra right wing so he can get the GOP Presidential nomination in 2008, they’re trying to play it off as if they’re just following the rules, when in fact they’ve been guilty of filibustering judicial nominees themselves.
But, like I said, now that they’re in power, and it’s their nominees who are getting held up, well thats just not right! So they’re going to try to change the rules of the Senate.
Now changing the rules isn’t such a bad thing if you follow the rules to change the rules in the first place. Most of us would refer to this as ‘playing by the rules’.
The problem is you need 67 votes in the Senate to change the Senate rules, which makes sense, and if the Republicans had 67 votes in the Senate to change the rules to not allow filibusters anymore, I’d say rock on, you have the votes, do it.
However, they don’t have 67 votes to change the rules to get rid of the filibuster. Not even close. But the ultra-conservatives are pushing hard to get their equally ultra-conservative judges rammed through the confirmation process, so Sen. Bill Frist is just going to ignore the rules and tell everyone only 51 votes are required to change the rules, and if you don’t like it well that’d too bad, because he just changed the rules. neener neerer.
Most of us would refer to this as ‘cheating’. That is, when there are a known set of rules but someone chooses not to play by them to tilt the odds of success in their favor.
So the real question here is not whether Bush’s nominees deserve an ‘up or down’ vote, as with many things in life where there are disagreements, it boils down to playing by the rules. In my opinion, and the opinion of a lot of other people, including a majority of second graders who understand the concept of ‘playing by the rules’, the Senate Republicans are making a mistake by trying to cheat.
If Senate Republicans are allowed to break the rules so they can ram through judges that a small percentage of their party are pushing, mainstream Americans, the value of fairness, and democracy itself lose as well.