‘It Has Never Been Worse!’; CNN Makes Excuses, Condemns GOP Going Nuclear on Gorsuch

After Monday’s White House press briefing, CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin and most of her panelists chided the “partisanship” of the GOP-led U.S. Senate ahead of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation vote and invoking of the nuclear option, whining that the divisiveness “has never been worse.”

Baldwin and her guests were not smart enough, of course, to mention how they should be attacking Harry Reid for his 2013 changes to other presidential nominations to the federal bench, but that would also require telling the truth.

While her producers fumbled to turn around clips of Spicer discussing Gorsuch, Baldwin fretted to correspondent Brianna Keilar: “[I]n terms of partisanship, you know as you thought Washington was pretty bad, it seems to me with the issue of the filibuster and totally changing Senate rules, it has never been worse.” 

Keilar eventually broke down and joined Baldwin, but her first set of comments pointed out how plenty of Republicans went along with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan even though it was clear they’d be liberal jurists.

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However, Keilar flipped after the Spicer clip was aired and parroted the Democratic arguments:

This is supposed to be the more level-headed chamber and the House is historically a little more raucous....I think you’ve heard a lot of people concerned about this, that when you do go towards this nuclear option, that you could be taking away that very important characteristic of the Senate....But to that point, I think in this polarized time, it's easy to forget that, yes, you used to have people cross the aisle to vote for someone, but Brooke, Democrats are so mad. One, they really have no reason to get behind anything of Donald Trump's because he's so unpopular with their base and they’re ticked off about Merrick Garland. That Antonin Scalia died and that’s who President Obama had a pick for, that they were not able to proceed in any way and that Republicans wouldn't go along with anything.

The only guest that wasn’t interested in helping Democrats was former GOP Senator Rick Santorum, who correctly outlined the Biden rule and noted that he “opposed certain judges in the past, I don't recall ever voting against cloture, allowing the vote to come forward.”

The liberal Baldwin prefaced the above rebuttal from Santorum by suggesting Democrats are justified to filibuster Gorsuch because Republicans would do the same if the roles were reversed:

Yeah, Senator McConnell of the times said no way and I'm curious, Senator Santorum, let me ask you this question because if the roles were reversed, if we were living the other way around where you had a Democratic President and you had a, you know, majority in the Senate and you had Republicans, I mean, your party would be just as mad as Democrats are right now if the roles were reversed. Am I right?

“I’ve voted for a lot of judges and that I didn't agree with, but I voted for them because they were qualified....In the case of this was President Clinton, I voted for those judges and...what the Democrats are involved in right now is appealing to their base, trying to stand up to Donald Trump. But in the end, they are throwing out a very important tool...that will no longer be in place to make sure that if there really are judges who aren’t qualified,” warned Santorum.

Just as Santorum attempted to introduce some balance, liberal talk show host Bill Press moaned about the Biden rule not being anywhere in the Constitution and thus it’s not true. 

Before changing topics, CNN political reporter Maever Reston dutifully executed the liberal point of view without assigning any blame to Democrats or Harry Reid:

[S]o, it's going to be interesting to see what kind of pressure the President puts on these members this week saying that the nuclear option is potentially, you know, it’s really not a good idea for the Senate given the traditions there and when it actually gets to the floor to see whether Democrats will carry it all the way through. I do know that those Democrats are hearing loud and clear from the folks in their districts saying, you know, vote this guy down and right now, it’s — you know — the risk for the Democrats is being the party of no. So there's a lot going on here in the optics. 

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from April 3's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
April 3, 2017
3:12 p.m. Eastern

BROOKE BALDWIN: Let's start with the Gorsuch and guys, get in my ear and let me know if you have the sound bite where Sean Spicer was asked whether or not the white house is comfortable with the nuclear option and we have let’s listen and, Brianna, we’ll talk on the other side. We don’t have it. I’m told we’re going to get there, but just roll with me, Brianna. How, in terms of just — in terms of partisanship, you know as you thought Washington was pretty bad, it seems to me with the issue of the filibuster and totally changing Senate rules, it has never been worse. 

BRIANNA KEILAR: Yeah, well, and the point that he was making in this briefing was it's not unusual to vote against a nominee or and — but it's unusual to vote against — for instance, you’ve seen in the course of Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, you had institutionalists like Lindsey Graham, who I remember watching them during some of the confirmation hearings, would say I don't support this nominee, but she is qualified. Elections have consequences and so, he would vote then it to proceed, which is this key vote and even vote to confirm. But you're just seeing all of this fall apart at this point and that was the point that Sean Spicer made, which was this is someone who was qualified which I think there certainly is a lot of agreement. We have heard from the left and the right —

(....)

BALDWIN: Setting a dangerous precedent. That’s his whole point and we heard all those — we heard all those Republicans even before the, you know, daily briefing coming forward, Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, all saying the same thing.

KEILAR: Yeah and the idea being that there's a little decorum and I think you’ve seen a lot of this play out on many issues. There tends to be more decorum in the Senate than there is in the House. This is supposed to be the more level-headed chamber and the House is historically a little more raucous. And you just see the flinging around of opinions and there seems to be a more measured approach in the Senate in general and I think you’ve heard a lot of people concerned about this, that when you do go towards this nuclear option, that you could be taking away that very important characteristic of the Senate. Now, you heard Sean there saying, you kno, he's going to leave this to Mitch McConnell. And really turning this around on Democrats. But to that point, I think in this polarized time, it's easy to forget that, yes, you used to have people cross the aisle to vote for someone, but Brooke, Democrats are so mad. One, they really have no reason to get behind anything of Donald Trump's because he's so unpopular with their base and they’re ticked off about Merrick Garland. That Antonin Scalia died and that’s who President Obama had a pick for, that they were not able to proceed in any way and that Republicans wouldn't go along with anything. 

BALDWIN: Yeah, Senator McConnell of the times said no way and I'm curious, Senator Santorum, let me ask you this question because if the roles were reversed, if we were living the other way around where you had a Democratic President and you had a, you know, majority in the Senate and you had Republicans, I mean, your party would be just as mad as Democrats are right now if the roles were reversed. Am I right?

RICK SANTORUM: They’d be as mad but I think if you look at the most recent precedent of Kagan and Sotomayor, they — they gave the President the discretion. He won the election and when a President wins an election, he has a right to appoinbt the people in his cabinet and on the judiciary that comes with the presidency and while they — I have opposed certain judges in the past, I don't recall ever voting against cloture, allowing the vote to come forward. That’s just — you give the president the right to select his people. You don't necessarily support them always, but you give broad deference. I’ve voted for a lot of judges and that I didn't agree with, but I voted for them because they were qualified. I didn't think they would necessarily rule the way I'd like them to rule, but they were qualified to rule. In the case of this was President Clinton, I voted for those judges and this is a whole different paradigm and what the Democrats are involved in right now is appealing to their base, trying to stand up to Donald Trump. But in the end, they are throwing out a very important tool that's been in place for a long time that will no longer be in place to make sure that if there really are judges who aren’t qualified and who don’t have the right temperament or things we want from a judge, they’re now going to have a lower hurdle to cross than they’ve had in the past and I don't think that's necessarily a a good thing. 

BALDWIN: Bill Press. Does the Senator have a point? 

BILL PRESS: No, with all due respect. 

SANTORUM: Surprise. 

PRESS: Let me just say this. First of all, I heard Lindsey Graham, whom I admire a lot, earlier say he was going to vote to break the rules because it's not fair, he said, when the Democrats get their judges and the Republicans can't get theirs. Give me a break, right? I mean, Merrick Garland never even got a hearing. Now, that's not the only reason to vote against Judge Gorsuch. But I'm just saying the rules are the rules. The Democrats are using the filibuster which the Republicans have used hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. Those are the rules and you cannot whine and complain about one party now using the rules as a minority party when the Republican Party did the very same thing in the minority. Just live with it and move on.

BALDWIN: How would you respond, Senator?

SANTORUM: It's simply not true and the Republicans have never used a filibuster to block a nomination. What happened with Merrick Garland is something that was a long-standing precedent that, in the last year of a president’s term, you don’t get the chance to fill in a very important, 30-year term for another candidate’s. That’s just not —

PRESS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Senator — where did that rule come from? Where did that rule come from? 

SANTORUM: It’s a long-standing precedent.

PRESS: No, no, it's not, senator. Let's go by the Constitution. You said about President Trump and I would agree. He was elected. He gets to nominate his person to the Supreme Court and it comes up for a vote. President Obama was elected, he was reelected. He gets to nominate Justice Garland. There is nothing in the Constitution that says he ceases becoming President of the United States after he’s got one year left to go. 

SANTORUM: Maybe we need to understand the difference what's in the Constitution and the term precedent. Precedent is not in the Constitution. It is the precedent — it's the custom of the United States Senate not to approve justices at that late point and that was Democrats and Republicans. So, I understand that Democrats are upset about it and I get that.

(....)

MAEVE RESTON: So the optics here are really important and I think that, you know, you're looking at his legacy within the first hundred days. They really want to put some points on the board and so, it's going to be interesting to see what kind of pressure the President puts on these members this week saying that the nuclear option is potentially, you know, it’s really not a good idea for the Senate given the traditions there and when it actually gets to the floor to see whether Democrats will carry it all the way through. I do know that those Democrats are hearing loud and clear from the folks in their districts saying, you know — 

BALDWIN: Right!

RESTON: — vote this guy down and right now, it’s — you know — the risk for the Democrats is being the party of no. So there's a lot going on here in the optics. 

NB Daily Appointments Judiciary Gorsuch Nomination Congress Bias by Omission Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CNN CNN Newsroom Video Government & Press Brianna Keilar Brooke Baldwin Bill Press Rick Santorum Neil Gorsuch
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