This week the United States Senate briefly turned their attention away from Obama / PelosiCare and considered President Barack Obama’s nomination of U.S. District Judge David Hamilton to an appellate court position, and the results were instructive. During the tenure of George W. Bush, much was made of the judicial nomination and confirmation process, with debates raging over the upper chamber’s proper role in “advise and consent” and whether filibustering nominees was an appropriate use minority leverage. Dana Milbank takes a look at what a difference a few years can make in the words and deeds of some of our very high profile Republican leaders in the Senate. He begins the analysis with a grim, yet still amusing observation:
In their quest to thwart President Obama, Republicans do not fear the hobgoblin of consistency.
Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama)
THEN: Decried Democrats’ “unprecedented, obstructive tactics.” Said to have Bush nominees “opposed on a partisan filibuster, it is really wrong,” Demanded they get “an up-and-down vote.”
NOW: “I opposed filibusters before,” the Alabaman said with his trademark twang. But in this case, he went on, “I don’t agree with his judicial philosophy. Therefore, I believe this side cannot acquiesce into a philosophy that says that Democratic presidents can get their judges confirmed with 50 votes.”
Mitch McConnell (R – Ky.)
THEN: Demanded “a simple up-or-down vote” for nominees. Told Democrats to “move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.”
NOW: Voted to sustain the filibuster.
Sam Brownback (R – Kan.)
THEN: “Neither filibusters nor supermajority requirements have any place in the confirmation process.”
NOW: Voted to sustain the filibuster
Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.)
THEN: “If the filibuster becomes an institutional response where 40 senators driven by special interest groups declare war on nominees in the future, the consequence will be that the judiciary will be destroyed over time.”
NOW: Voted to sustain the filibuster
I should note that this entry is not intended as a comment on the pros and cons of the filibuster as a valid legislative tool. It’s a long established aspect of the process and each member will have to decide for themselves as to when and how it should be used. (In fact, just yesterday I wrote about how foolish it would be of the Democrats to seek to abolish it.) But that’s not the point here.
I find myself asking a question about these Republicans which I used to regularly ask about Democrats. Do they not know that the voters have access to Google? Have they never heard of YouTube? Do they really think they can just do an about face on such a fundamental question in only a handful of years and nobody will notice?
This isn’t about filibusters. It’s about principles and leadership, and these Senators are demonstrating neither this week. During the Bush years, many of us RINOs (including yours truly) left the party over valid differences of opinion, largely on foreign policy and fiscal responsibility. And even as some in the base seek to keep driving more of us out, (see Allahpundit’s great story on that subject today, by the way) some of us wouldn’t mind mending our fences and coming back. But you’ve got to demonstrate that there’s a real difference between the parties and put something on the table to lure us back. A good start would be to walk the walk as you talk the talk and lead with consistency and principles. This is the exact opposite and makes you look like nothing more than “just another lying politician in an expensive suit.”
That’s not what’s going to bring us back. Integrity, sound ideas and demonstrated personal responsibility combined with a willingness to open the tent up a bit will.