More Orwellian Rhetoric on Filibusters
On CNN's partisan bickerfest Crossfire yesterday, the topic was the nuclear/constitutional (or is that nuke-the-Constitution?) option. Bob Novak showed himself to be the king of partisan hacks once again in the following exchange with Ralph Neas of People For the American Way, after a video clip of Senator Frist asserting that all judicial nominees for 214 years have received an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor:
NOVAK: Can you name one who has been denied an up or down vote.
RALPH NEAS, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: The most important filibuster of a judicial nomination in the history of the United States (INAUDIBLE)
NOVAK: He didn't have majority support.
NEAS: You are wrong, Bob.
NOVAK: Oh, come on. He didn't have majority support, you know that.
NEAS: The problem is you never -- you never...
NEAS: It was a four-day filibuster. Twice as long as any of the filibusters over the last four years. There were 51 votes. The problem is, you never went to the Senate Judiciary Committee report, where three of the unannounced senators voted for him, and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted him out. You didn't count the government and you didn't count how -- 51 votes.
NOVAK: Why -- They didn't have the votes. That is making up history, Ralph. I'm embarrassed and ashamed of you.
(Incidentally, the filibustered nomination they're discussing is that of Abe Fortas. Though CNN's transcribers couldn't make it out, I heard it clearly.)
The more I thought about Novak's assertion, the dumber it seemed. First there was the fact that Neas presented a detailed argument for his claim that Fortas had majority support in the Senate in spite of the "official" head counts, but Novak presented a veiled personal attack on Neas rather than any factual evidence. Then late last night, I realized there was a deeper flaw in Novak's argument: if Fortas didn't have majority support, why would anyone bother to filibuster his nomination? It wouldn't have mattered if his nomination went to the Senate floor if there weren't 51 votes in the full Senate to confirm it. The assertion is just silly on the face of it.
(Transcript available here)