A Tale of Two Editorial Boards

If there were a competition for cluelessness between the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post, Wapo would win, hands down. Behold their opinions of the filibuster bomb:

The New York Times, in an editorial headlined Democracy Returns to the Senate:

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. …

… It would have been unthinkable just a few months ago, when the majority leader, Harry Reid, was still holding out hope for a long-lasting deal with Republicans and insisting that federal judges, because of their lifetime appointments, should still be subject to supermajority thresholds. But Mr. Reid, along with all but three Senate Democrats, was pushed to act by the Republicans’ refusal to allow any appointments to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, just because they wanted to keep a conservative majority on that important court.

That move was as outrageous as the tactic they used earlier this year to try to cripple the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which they despise) by blocking all appointments to those agencies. That obstruction was removed in July when Mr. Reid threatened to end the filibuster and Republicans backed down. The recent blockade of judges to the D.C. appellate court was the last straw. .

…Given the extreme degree of Republican obstruction during the Obama administration, the Democrats had little choice but to change the filibuster rule….Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.

The Washington Post, After filibuster vote, both parties will face nasty “nuclear” fallout:

THE REWRITING of filibuster rules by Senate Democrats on Thursday changed the legislative body in fundamental ways, and for the worse. Republicans whose unjustified recalcitrance provoked the change should be ashamed. Democrats who are celebrating will soon enough regret their decision. The radical action, a product of poisonous partisanship, will also be an accelerant of poisonous partisanship. …

…The impact of changing the rules in this way may be even more far-reaching. The Democratic action sets a precedent that a future Republican majority will use to change procedures when it gets into a political jam, rather than negotiate with Democrats. The logical outcome is a Senate operating more like the House, with no rights for the minority, no reason for debate and no incentive to cooperate. For those who view that as an improvement, we offer today’s House as a counterargument.

Democrats understood all this very well when they were in the minority. “You may own the field right now,” then-Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D) said in 2005, when Republicans threatened to invoke the nuclear option. “But you won’t own it forever. And I pray to God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.” Republicans resisted pushing the nuclear button then; both parties should have stepped back and hammered out a bipartisan compromise reform now.

This time Republicans proved incapable of exercising their minority rights in a responsible way. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) proved not enough of a leader to resist the “naked power grab.” American democracy is that much poorer as a result.

From the comments:

Let’s see … the Democrats and Republicans should have compromised, but Republicans refused to compromised, therefore it was wrong for Democrats to take action.

This is an editorial so stupid it could only have been written by Fred Hiatt.

Seriously. The genteel, bipartisan Senate you are mourning died awhile back, Fred, and its corpse rotted. You didn’t smell it?

Charles Pierce wrote, “They may need the Jaws of Life to pry Ruth Marcus off the fainting couch.” Yep; Marcus is furious with the Democrats because (as she admits) Republicans forced their hand to end the filibuster, and they actually did it. She is even now swooning on the sofa and calling for smelling salts.

29 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Editorial Boards

  1. “Republicans whose unjustified recalcitrance provoked the change should be ashamed.”

    Ok, WaPo, that, THAT sentence, right there, should have given you pause about writing the rest of your stupid editorial.
    Because what should be the response to “unjustified recalcitrance?”
    Mute obsequiousness?
    Been there, done THAT!

    And what’s telling, was the Republican’s response:

    The Republicans kept poking, poking, POKING, at President Obama, Harry Reid, and the Democrats, figuring they wouldn’t DARE change the rules – while knowing that when they’re back in charge, no more of this shilly-shallying and dilly-dallying, they’ll kill ALL filibusters.
    Which is what they’re now threatening.
    And they’ll willingly use their ‘victimhood’ in the coming elections.
    “Poor, poor, innocent us! We did nothing to deserve this!”

    And now they’re shrieking, wailing, moaning, rending at their hair and garments, about “The TYRANNY of the Majority!”
    All, while salivating for their turn to be in the majority – then, THEN, you Democrats will taste some REAL TYRANNY!!!

    ‘Enough is too much already!’, as the Bugermeister Meisterburger said in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town!”

    For about 30 years, Democrats have used the filibuster sparingly, to help shield the public from the worst of Conservatism.
    And Republicans have been using it to stop ANY Liberal/Progressive change that they could.
    And they finally got so out of control, that the Democrats finally did something about it!

    And, while I fear the backlash, I also think that the majority should rule.

    And if the American public is ignorant, stupid, and self-destructive enough to put Republicans back in charge, I say, ‘Ok, now suffer ALL of the consequences for your ignorance, stupidity, and self-destructiveness!”
    Mebbe THAT’LL learn ’em!!!

    I’ll be among the impoverished, or probably dead, but maybe other people will finally learn, not, “What hath God wrought,” but, “Oh Lord, what we bring on ourselves!”

    It took The Great Depression to keep Conservatives out of power for decades.

    So, folks, if you want an even MORE Fascistic and Christian nation, then go vote for it.
    You want to bring on another Depression? You want MORE corporate control? You want Jesus in your bedroom and workplace? Then vote for it.
    But don’t whine when you get it.
    And don’t bitch that the filibuster wasn’t around to stop Conservative extremism!
    The majority ruled.
    You voted for it – you got it!
    And if, IF, you get the chance to vote again, mebbe all y’all mighta learned somethin’, and not do it again!!!
    You’d think W would a learned all y’all!

  2. I keep having to laugh at loud at the underlying premise of positions like the WaPo’s, which they summarize as this being a bad step because it means “that a future Republican majority will use to change procedures when it gets into a political jam, rather than negotiate with Democrats.”

    As if that wasn’t already going to happen? Have they not been WATCHING? When they been in the minority, they’ve refused to negotiate with Democrats! They dedicated themselves on Obama’s first election night to obstruct him continuously. Of COURSE the GOP will refuse to negotiate, but Reid’s manuver yesterday has nothing to do with that.

    Nothing the Dems do on the filibuster will make the GOP more radical or extreme than it already wants to be.

  3. My rescue group offers spay/neuter services here in NC for as low as $65 for dogs. I would not insult cats by comparing their cost to legislative services. The dogs are more forgiving, and we have to admit, they, like legislators, will do most anything for a treat. The newspapers have a role for dogs, too. It is all so fitting, except that I like dogs.

  4. Just remember, Dems won’t hold the Senate forever (heck, you might not hold it come 2015), so don’t complain when Republicans use the same rules Dems established, or even expand them.

    • “so don’t complain when Republicans use the same rules Dems established, or even expand them.”

      Oh, we won’t. Unlike Republicans, we assume the rules apply to everyone, and not just other people.

  5. Teach – if n when the Democrats become the minority, the Rs would do as the Democrats did on Thursday, they would be the ones eliminating the filibuster. And so the Democrats had nothing to lose by elminating it yesterday, and getting on with filling formerly blocked positions.

    Apparently there’s enough confusion over exactly how many positions were blocked by the Republicans, that their noise machine is able to spin it as an extreme power grab – I’m reading wingnuts screaming that Reid only did it over 2 or 3 judges for the DC Circuit Court. And so this is the latest talking point flooding wingnut mind.

  6. Dana Milbanks of the WaPo says that the Democrats were justified in changing the filibuster rules, and then he called changing the filibuster rules a naked power grab.
    I’m having trouble understanding what appears to my mind as an apparent contradiction.. Can somebody help me out in understanding what he means? I’m soooo confused.

  7. Gulag.. I think Teach loves you..Sorta like Crazy Cat.. In a masochistic kind of way where he needs a verbal spanking on occasion to reaffirm your affections.

  8. While looking for other things…I clicked on the Museum of TV and Radio (in LA; it’s now called “The Paley Center”). Their website features a brief series of clips running across the masthead, “This Day in Media” – one shows Walter Cronkite announcing Kennedy’s death, and the next, is a clip from the first episode of “Dr Who” – introducing the Tardis. The original Dr Who intones: “I tolerate this century, but I don’t enjoy it”. Enjoy.

  9. Swami: I haven’t read what Milbank had to say, but I don’t think it’s necessarily contradictory. It can be a naked power grab and still be justified and necessary. Lincoln pulled off his share of naked power grabs in the Civil War, but what else was he going to do?

    So I think it’s possible to argue that the rules change was necessary, but that it still sets a bad precedent. But then I think the concern with precedent is a little overstated, given how little use the Republicans have for precedents and institutional norms lately. The main thing to remember is that it was their abuse that killed the filibuster, not the rules change.

  10. Stephen…I understand what you are saying and I agree that it can be understood as compatible in certain contexts, but they way Milibanks expressed it as a justifiable action because the Dem’s had been placed in a situation where their backs where to the wall, and then further label it a power grab..kinda sets up a conflict where motive is the key element in understanding the nature of the conflict. To me a power grab implies an offensive move when what the Dem’s did was a defensive move.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that limiting the filibuster is something that was forced upon them by GOP obstructionism. And it wasn’t something that they did to gain an advantage. They don’t gain any power aside from the power of stopping the assaults from the obstructionists.

  11. I’m avoiding using the term “The Nuclear Option.”

    I’m telling people that Democrats chose, “A Preemptive First Strike.”

  12. I wish democrats had the message discipline of republicans. Here’s the message: The GOP wants to knock Coach Obama’s leadership while refusing to let him field a team!

    A cute sound bite. Not really. It’s a fact all the editorials seem to concede. Here’s Ruth Marcus, who opposed the nuclear option.

    “Meanwhile, the damage inflicted by the long list of executive-branch vacancies is enormous. At the Department of Homeland Security, for instance, it’s home alone. Not only is there no secretary but 40 percent of the senior leadership positions are empty. There is no confirmed deputy secretary. According to the department’s Web site, three of four undersecretary positions are filled by a person who has not been confirmed; the fourth is vacant. There is no confirmed immigration-enforcement director or customs commissioner.”

    Here’s a statistic to make you pause. The previous 42 presidents have had 86 nominees filibustered. President Obama has had 82 nominees filibustered. This puts perspective to the fantastic statement by Bitch McConnell, “..by any objective standard, Senate republicans have been very, very fair to this president.” The only objective standard that suggests leniency, is that the Senate GOP hasn’t done to Obama what was done to Emmit Till.

  13. I hope Obama’s staff has a list of recent filibusterees on speed dial. Could be a merry Solstice for a bunch of people.

  14. The only objective standard that suggests leniency, is that the Senate GOP hasn’t done to Obama what was done to Emmit Till.

    Aint that the truth!

  15. Last night I saw a stat that there are 93 (NINETY-THREE) appointed judgeships vacant at the current time. Some, at any given time, will be vacant because no one has had the time to fill them, but 93!

    And Bush was forcing judges to resign right and left in a naked power grab, based solely on ideological reasons (as in, they bothered to read the Constitution, and that was heretical).

    The Republican leadership thinks the American public is pretty stupid. It is now up to the public to confirm or deny that belief.

  16. Pingback: “Naked Power Grab” — REALLY? | Left-Handed Nib

  17. Well, teach is still alive, I see.
    The annual war on ducks started about 5 minutes ago. It sounds like wwlll out on lake tohopelaga this morning. I don’t follow sports or hunting seasons, but it looked like it was upon us when I crossed the lake jessup bridge on Thursday, and noticed large concentrations of ducks.

  18. The filibuster that was ended was only for executive posts and non-SCOTUS judges, so the prez can actually run the gov’t. Supermajorities are still needed for legislation and SCOTUS judges. This keeps the repugs from running the gov’t and hence, the country, from their minority position. Takes a lot of brass to think you have a right to have a say when you don’t have the presidency, an overwhelming minority in the senate and a gerrymandered majority in the house, even tho a majority of Americans voted for dems in house races. So, Teach, I’ll say, that if the repbs ever get a majority and the presidency, they should be able to make laws to their liking because that’s what the American people have said they wanted. That’s called Democracy, and sometimes the other guys get to make the laws. Unfortunately, the GOP hasn’t figured this out.

  19. Buckeyblue,
    Oh, they figured that out, alright!
    On the first Wednesday in November of 2009.
    And after that, they did what they could to slow-down hope and change. And then, when they took back the House in 2011, they decided to grind hope and change to a halt.
    And they’ve succeeded – and as a result, forced Harry Reid’s hand.

  20. …even tho a majority of Americans voted for dems in house races

    Yes, but all the REAL Americans voted Republican.

  21. Responding to Swami, yes, I see what you mean. I guess the distinction is between worrying about the implications of the rule change and actually criticizing the Democrats for it. And on reflection, I wouldn’t call it a “grab,” for the reasons you say, but on the other hand I don’t think it’s any good pretending it wasn’t an exercise of raw power.

    In fact, I think it’s important to recognize that. But then there’s always been more of this kind of thing in our politics than we like to pretend. The Constitution, the laws, and the rules of the House and Senate keep everything within certain bounds, but just underneath the surface a lot of it comes down to what you can get away with.

  22. A New Breed of Democrats Drove Filibuster Change:

    …The time has come for Democrats to take a harder stance against the tea party Republicans, he said. “These folks have come to Washington to destroy government from within and will use any tool at their disposal,” Murphy said. “To the extent that we have the ability to take tools away from the tea party, we should do it. And one of the tools was the filibuster. Another was the belief that Democrats would cave in the face of another shutdown or debt default.”

    For Murphy, the failure of the Senate gun control bill earlier this year was the final straw. He took on the issue of gun violence after the Newtown school shooting in his state in 2012. A bipartisan bill crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) had 55 votes but failed to advance.

    “I was a proponent of filibuster reform coming into the Senate, but I became a revolutionary on this issue when we lost the gun bill,” Murphy said.

    The group also includes Elizabeth Warren, elected last fall in Massachusetts. Her firebrand style and unabashed liberalism have energized the party’s left wing.

    The senators’ influence has already been seen in other fights, most recently in the 16-day shutdown, when new Democrats lobbied party leaders to stand up to Republicans — a tactic that seemed to shock many on the other side of the aisle, who were betting that Democrats would blink first.

    Next on their agenda is extending the filibuster rule change from presidential appointments to legislation, which would enable the Senate to move on issues including gun control and climate change…

    …The changing Democratic tactics may reflect a generational shift occurring in the Senate. It’s almost certain that by the start of the next Congress in 2015, more than half of the Democratic caucus will have been elected since 2008, when gridlock reached new heights….

    The shift among Democrats has at times confounded Republicans, particularly on the filibuster issue. Aides to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the third-longest-serving Republican, said they had felt that Reid’s most recent moves telegraphing the nuclear option were a bluff.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday railed against the actions of “uninitiated newcomers in the Democratic caucus,” reminding them they had never served in the minority in the Senate. Those who have a longer memory “should know better,” he added….

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