Sunday, February 16, 2003

Making Amends

An email to Howard Bashman says:

I would have hoped that fair-minded individuals on both sides would recognize how the judicial confirmation process would similarly be degraded by the use of a filibuster to stop pending nominations. Does anyone doubt that, in the future, the Senate Republicans may attempt to filibuster the nominees of a Democratic President now that this precedent has been set? Is this really the way we want this process to proceed?

Just a little more than four years ago, Senator Leahy stated on the Senate floor that "I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on any judge; that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported; that I felt the Senate should do its duty. If we don't like somebody the President nominates, vote him or her down. But don't hold them in this anonymous unconscionable limbo, because in doing that, the minority of Senators really shame all Senators." 144 Cong. Rec. S6522 (June 18, 1998). Sadly, this principled position appears to have evaporated into the ether now that the President is a member of the opposite party. Shame indeed.

I've never understood why Republicans like to think that it is the victim of a crime who is obligated to make amends. The Republicans didn't just play dirty THEN, they're continuing to play dirty NOW. They gave the Democrats virtually no time to question Estrada, and Estrada didn't feel it necessary to bother answering their questions.

No one is arguing that "two wrongs make a right," but when the bully knocks you down and keeps kicking, you eventually fight back. It's their rules, which they continue to play by, and all of the moral appeals for the Democrats to play nice ring utterly hollow. The very same Republicans who played dirty pool with the Clinton nominees are the ones running the show now. They haven't done anything to make up for their past transgressions, they continue to behave in the same way, continue to lie about the past, and then have the temerity to appeal to the better nature of the minority party and argue that Democrats should behave better then the Republicans are continuing to behave.

If Leahy's opinion has changed it isn't because he's no longer a principled man, it's because he's finally realized that he isn't up against a principled opposition. The Republicans turned this into a gunfight, but they continue to ask the Democrats to be gentlemanly and bring their knives instead. After years of having bullets being pumped into their chests, they're starting to realize it's a losing strategy. No one gives a crap if David Broder praises the Democrats for rolling over and being good puppies, and that's about the only thing playing nice gets them - and not even very often.

Estrada is an exceedingly nasty character. And, his non-answers to the committee make him either a liar or unqualified for the job. Any partisan warrior with a drop of ethics would be horrified that the Republicans are enabling and condoning this behavior. So, spare me your pious appeals for "fairness."