NY Times Position on Filibusters 'Evolves'... Again

May 15th, 2012 8:44 AM

In which the NY Times reveals itself, yet again, to be a simple, partisan rag...

In 2005, the Republicans in the United States Senate were frustrated by the Democrats' use of the filibuster to thwart Presidential nominations to the Federal judiciary, and were particularly concerned with the threat of a filibuster on Supreme Court nominees, which had never previously happened. Because of this, they contemplated a rule change to eliminate, or significantly limit, the filibuster, a change that was termed the "nuclear option." The mainstream press, as represented here by the New York Times, was appalled. This despite the fact that, with Democrats in the White House and control of the Senate, they had favored filibuster reform. No, they were just wrong earlier, and their new, more fully matured position, was the right one. Clearly, the filibuster was wrong. A problem.

March 29, 2005 - Walking in the Opposition's Shoes

While the filibuster has not traditionally been used to stop judicial confirmations, it seems to us this is a matter in which it's most important that a large minority of senators has a limited right of veto. Once confirmed, judges can serve for life and will remain on the bench long after Mr. Bush leaves the White House. And there are few responsibilities given to the executive and the legislature that are more important than choosing the members of the third co-equal branch of government. The Senate has an obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of the process.

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.

On May 5, 2005, a little over a month later, they provided space on their editorial page to former Senator George Mitchell to make the same case against filibuster reform. Clearly, when the Democrats were in the minority, the filibuster was a vitally important tool for stopping the depredations of a Republican President and Senate. They recognized, at this time, the folly of their earlier position, that the filibuster was an archaic, anti-democratic nuisance, allowing Republicans to prevent the noble Democrats in the Senate and White House from getting done the vital work of the nation.

So, what goes around comes around. Again. As the editorial board has decided, again, that the principled (certainly not partisan or biased, but principled) position on the filibuster is that it must be reformed.

Fed up and rueful, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, made a startling admission on Thursday: he should have reined in the filibuster rule last year, when he had a chance...If Mr. Reid helped enact the proposal of [Senators Udall and Merkley], he would instantly make Congress more efficient and more democratic...We have supported eliminating the filibuster for judicial and executive nominees. Making other filibusters harder would be good for both parties. If Mr. Reid remains majority leader in January, he should lead the reform.

And, of course, they're not actually lying when they say that they "have supported eliminating the filibuster for judicial and executive nominees" - they're just conveniently omitting the fact that, when it was their guys doing the filibustering and not the other guys, it was A-OK with them.

Because it's not about principle. Never has been, never will be. The Times, despite its pretense to being a non-partisan purveyor of the news, is a partisan political actor. They are pro-Democrat, anti-Republican, leftist progressives and, to the extent that there's ever a "principle" behind their positions, that's the extent of it.

And it's been really obvious for a really long time. This was not hard to see coming, as this piece from 2006, during the "nuclear option" debate and the Alito nomination, demonstrates...

[I]f the Republicans don't change the rules, the Democrats will, as soon as it becomes in their best interest to do so. Is there any chance that a President Hillary Clinton nomination to the Supreme Court, a nominee with majority support in the Senate, could be kept off the court by a Republican minority with impunity? That a majority supported nominee could be filibustered without hysterical screeching from the legacy media? Of course not. The New York Times would compose frothy rants encouraging the Democrats to, for the good of the country, change the rules to overcome the obstructionists, so that they could back to the work of the American People...