Frog Soup

Ruminations on the twilight of democracy in America.
by Monkey99


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Alito Hall of Shame

Well, Alito's in, and the dust has pretty much settled and there is plenty of acrimony and recrimination to go around. Plenty of post-mortem analyses too. As many of you know, Massachusetts' US Senate delegation led an attempt to filibuster the Alito nomination. As you also surely must know, the attempt failed.

For those unversed in Senate rules, some explanantion is in order. Senators are afforded unlimited time to debate, unless 60 out of 100 Senators vote to stop debate. Such unlimited debate is called a filibuster. The vote to stop it is called cloture. Filibuster is an effective, albeit costly in terms of political capital, way for a (large) minority of Senators to block a bill (or confirmation) that they feel strongly opposed to by, essentially, never allowing it to come to a vote. It is a tool that has been used by Senators of both parties since such rules were established.

Lets be clear. The White House had the votes to confirm Alito. They only needed 50 and there are 55 Republicans, and enough Blue Dog Democrats to offer a comfortable margin of error. The only way that Alito's confirmation could've been stopped was by fillibuster. If a Senator was truly, honestly opposed to him being elevated to the highest court, then that was the one and only way to prevent it. Only 25 Senators availed themselves of their right to fillibuster.

Yet ... there were 42 who voted against Alito's confirmation. What gives? Clearly some Senators did not vote their conscience. They voted for cloture, thereby guaranteeing that Alito would be confirmed, and then cast a cowardly and utterly useless vote against a confirmation that was now a sure winner. This has all been talked about at length, I'm sure, but I haven't seen a comprehensive list of the guilty yet, so ...

...I'm naming names:

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)

These are The Duplicitous 16.

Chafee, of course, wants to have it both ways as he attempts to thread his way between the Scylla and Charybdis of his primary and then general elections this fall.

Lieberman, after an identical, and equally shameful, performance during the Bankruptcy legislation last Spring, "sells out" a return engagement.

I was pleasantly surprised to not find Hillary on this list. Apparently she found time in her busy triangulation schedule to make a stand on principal.

Biden, too, missed another golden opportunity to blow it out his ass, as he is wont to do. Could they be getting a clue? Careful, guys. You don't want to give the impression that you're "pandering" to us moonbats (read: Democrats).

And I was unpleasantly surprised by Byrd, who voted for cloture and for confirmation. I understand that the Senator from WV often crosses the aisle, as illustrated in Dr. Laniac's Super-Duper Congressional Voting Analysis Tool, but I was saddened to see him cross over to the Dark Side on this one. Byrd has been one of the only consistant and vocal critics, from within the halls of the Senate, of the President's 5 year abuse of executive power. He was critical of Bush before it was "sort of okay" to be critical of him. Now he votes to confirm a jurist who will uphold Bush's vision of absolute presidential authority. And for what? To grease the wheels for another Senate run at 89-years old? It just doesn't make sense. He has dishonored the Senate that he has served in all these years. Byrd, I thought I knew ya.