Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hillary: How to Lie to the New York Times

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, finding herself among reddish ideological compatriots – a “Women for Hillary” gathering at a midtown hotel that added $250,000 to her political coffers – threw off her recently acquired “moderate” corset and unwound.

Samplings of the senator’s spicy rhetoric follow:

• “There has never been an administration, I don’t believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further (sic) their own agenda. I know it’s frustrating for many of you, it’s frustrating for me. Why can’t the Democrats do more to stop them? I can tell you this: It’s very hard to stop people who have you shame about what they’re doing. It’s very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government (sic) who don’t care. It’s very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth.”

• According to a report from the Clinton friendly New York Times News Service, the senator “described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even ‘destroy’ the Senate to gain political advantage, a reference to the recent fight that nearly stripped the Democratic minority of its filibuster powers to shelve judicial nominees. She also took a shot at the House of Representatives, calling it ‘a dictatorship of the Republican leadership.’” This last reference may be a feminist riff on Lenin and Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

• The news report continued, “In some of her sharpest language, Clinton said that abetting Republicans was a Washington press corp. that has become a pale imitation of the Watergate era reporters who are being celebrated amid the identification of the Washington Post source Deep Throat. “It’s shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today. They don’t stand their ground. If they’re criticized by the White House, they just fall apart. I mean c’mon, toughen up guys; it’s only our constitution and country at stake.”

Boiling the rhetorical lard out of Clinton’s provocative assertions, we arrive at the following propositions, none of which is unassailable: 1) The filibuster is a constitutional right; 2) Republicans wish to deprive Democrats of the right, destroying the American Republic in the process, because they don’t care about constitutional rights, 3) the Washington media could thwart these subversive acts were they not shameless cowards who do not scruple to connive at lying on a grand scale, and 4) Republicans are shameless liars and dolts.

Now then, no one – not even a fanciful Supreme Court justice who tends to fabricate newborn constitutional rights from “the aura of rights” that surrounds the US Constitution – has asserted that the filibuster is a constitutional right.

At best, it is a tradition of the senate – and not a longstanding tradition at that. Prior to the current filibustering of judges, only once in U.S. history has the senate engaged in a filibuster to deny a presidential nominee a judgeship. Abe Fortas’ nomination was filibustered during the Johnson administration. And then again -- as if Democrats needed reminding -- the traditional filibuster is a talkathon conducted on the floor of congress lasting at most a couple of days. Prior to the obstructionism of the current congress, the longest senatorial filibuster was performed by Sen. Chris Dodd's favorite rhetorician, Robert Byrd, a now repentant Klu-Kluxer who then was filibustering the Civil Rights Act.

The Democrat “filibuster” against Judge Janice Roger Brown lasted two and a half years, ending finally in a deal that permitted the congress to vote on her nomination.

While filibusters are not mentioned in the Constitution, that hallowed document does assign to congress a right of advice and consent on executive department nominations. But Congress’ constitutional prerogative has been frustrated by a small group of senators – taken together, one might call them a dictatorship of judiciary committee members – that has misused the filibuster to prevent judicial nominations from going to the floor, where senators not deprived of their constitutional rights might exercise their rights of advice and consent.

When you turn it over and examine the thing closely, the so-called "filibuster" against judicial nominees is really a committee strike or work stoppage designed to bring the business of the senate to a halt, which is not the sort of thing that occasions the fall of republics.

As to the Republicans being liars: "There are three kinds of lies," Disraeli once said, "Lies, damned lies and statistics." Clinton's own remarks about the filibuster fall somewhere in this grouping. Lies are the mother’s milk of politics, and Clinton’s more rabid supporters are hoping the senator may be good enough at it to become the Democrat presidential nominee after the Bushies vacate the White House.
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