On Wednesday, James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal exposed that the New York Times editorial page shamelessly changed its position on the filibuster in 2013 from nearly the exact opposite of its position during a Republican Senate majority in 2005.
“It's now clearer than ever that the Times's guiding principle is nothing other than the tactical interests of the Democratic Party,” wrote Taranto. On July 16, 2013, an unsigned Times editorial lamented that the Democrats caved in to Republicans and failed to shred the filibuster, just in case Republicans ever regain the majority (perhaps in the next election.) Harry Reid was too wimpy:
There is always another crisis to come. That's why it's regrettable that Mr. Reid and the Democrats didn't vote to change the rules for this Senate and for a future one controlled by Republicans. They should have stood up for the principle that simple-majority votes should determine confirmation of executive appointments, not a 60-vote threshold that gives minority parties a veto over a president's team and that was unintended by the Constitution.
Earlier this year, the Times news pages dismissed Sen. Rand Paul's anti
-drones filibuster as paranoid and quoted critics denouncing it as a "dumb publicity stunt."
In 2005, the roles were reversed. Senate Democrats in the minority used the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial nominees, and Republicans threatened to invoke the "nuclear option." Instead, a deal was struck that allowed most of the disputed nominees through. The filibuster was preserved, and The Times approved on March 29, 2005. Taranto found the Times editorial page "asserting exactly the opposite of the "principle" it asserts today."
The filibuster, which allows 41 senators to delay action indefinitely, is a rough instrument that should be used with caution. But its existence goes to the center of the peculiar but effective form of government America cherishes.
Taranto added: "Hilariously, in that 2005 editorial the Times proclaimed it had come around":
A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the "nuclear option" in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton's early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it's obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it. We hope acknowledging our own error may remind some wavering Republican senators that someday they, too, will be on the other side and in need of all the protections the Senate rules can provide.
Perhaps the gymnasts at the Times could next take the radical-left Firedoglake position that the Senate should simply be abolished: "The filibuster alone is good enough reason to dispense with the Senate completely."