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January 27, 2006

Meet The New Kerry, Same As The Old Kerry

Greg writes:

If Kerry was serious about mounting a filibuster, why didn't he get Reid on board? Why did he wait until he was in Switzerland to announce it? If you think Alito's extreme enough to filibuster, why not get the ball rolling earlier in the week?

It's a scam folks. The Democrats may see the attempts to block Alito as the equivalent of putting a speedbump in front of a runaway train, but even their half-assed opposition is only a facade to ensure that we, the liberal base, stay calm and help deliver the votes in November. They'll turn this defeat into another fundraising appeal, fretting about the out-of-control Republicans while hoping we all forget how much they've folded time and again to the extreme right.

Word. But unlike Greg, I don't blame "Democrats" for this, filibustering was a bad idea with an invisible upshot. You want to stop bad nominees from getting on the Court, you turn out more votes, donate more money, and win more elections than the other guy. A filibuster, in the best case scenario that we win the aftermath, simply sets up the nomination of Michael Luttig. And then we filibuster him? How many times do you think voters will support that? And if your number there is smaller than the number of bad but qualified nominees in this country, then you see my point. If Democratic Senators think Alito is bad, their job is to vote no, it's not an abdication of duty to refuse a quixotic procedural delay.

I do, however, blame Kerry for cynically seeking rapprochement with the left by dangling the hopes of a filibuster he knew would never happen, would never succeed. If he'd truly wanted to stop Alito and had never, as he wrote, doubted that conviction, he shouldn't have been hanging out in Europe when the time came. It's not like the Senate doesn't release it's schedule in advance. As it is, his move not only looked fake, it opened him up to the same accusations of opportunism, ambition, and elitism that helped sink his campaign. has he learned nothing?

Switzerland. Jesus.

January 27, 2006 | Permalink


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Turning out more votes ain't gonna help if you still have Diebold counting them for you.

Just sayin.


Naked Ape

Posted by: Naked Ape | Jan 27, 2006 5:13:04 PM

It was the NYT editorial from a few days ago calling for a filibuster of Alito. Kerry answered the call in a quest to become the darling of the Left.

For conservatives, Kerry is the gift that keeps on giving.

Kerry in 2008!

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 27, 2006 5:16:04 PM

Sad thing to see you repeating once again the RW talking points.

My two Senators are doing what is necessary. The reason why Reid is not in is that Reid refused to be in. As the NYT repeated, my two Senators and others (like Boxer, Feingold, ...) pleaded for a filibuster. They were overruled by those who are afraid of the GOP. They did what was needed by themselves. Reid simply did not do his job.

As for Davos, you and the DLC wing of the party should register with the GOP. This would be clearer.

Posted by: FrenchGirlFromMA | Jan 27, 2006 5:27:47 PM

Let's see - Feinstein and Dodd have switched from anti-filibuster to pro-filibuster today. Reid is on board with the filibuster, as are 8 other Senators besides Kerry and Kennedy (the filibuster leaders). They have about 72 hours to persuade the rest of the caucus, and there are plenty of people getting on the phones to help the Senators from Massachusetts persuade them.

This isn't about "lefty" cred, because (quite frankly) Kerry can't do anything to persuade us to back him in the primaries in 2008, any more than we backed him in 2004. This is about doing the right thing for the country - and letting Alito put on a SCOTUS robe without putting up a fight would definitely be the wrong thing to do.

We keep asking our Senators to show some spine, and when they do, you treat them like this? Please.

Democrats.com has a list of Senators to call, if you feel like doing something besides parroting Li'l Scottie McClellan.

Posted by: Michael Sheridan | Jan 27, 2006 6:28:20 PM


I wondered how long it would take you to engage in one of your patented Kerry-bashing snark-fests. Let's look at the facts:

1. Alito has given no assurances that he will not reverse Roe v. Wade if given the chance.

2. Alito is very likely to subscribe "big-time" to the expansion of executive power and the erosion of the fourth amendment.

3. For reasons 1 and 2 above, Alito should not be confirmed for a seat on the Supreme Court.

4. Democrats do not have enough votes to defeat Alito in an up-or-down vote that will inevitably play out along party lines.

5. Therefore, the only remaining option is to filibuster the Alito nomination and prevent a vote from taking place.

6. Therefore, Kerry (and Kennedy) is doing the right thing in fomenting such a filibuster.

7. But because smart-ass seers such as yourself can read the minds and discern the motives of lesser men like Kerry, we must conclude that Kerry is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and therefore.....

8. That's right, we Democrats should once again bend over with our trousers around our ankles because, even though our message is correct, the messenger is forever tainted in the eyes of Ezra the All-knowing.

Posted by: zeke | Jan 27, 2006 6:36:37 PM

"This is about doing the right thing for the country - and letting Alito put on a SCOTUS robe without putting up a fight would definitely be the wrong thing to do."

Why?!? The only thing the Democrats proved in the hearings is that they have no class. Democrats mounting a filibuster that they know will not succeed is obstructionism. The American people don't support a filibuster of Alito.

Democrats actually believe this will help them in 2006. But you know what, more power to the clowns from MA and all the other Dems who follow along. No matter how bad it gets for the Republicans, the Democrats always seem to come through.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Democrats in 2006.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 27, 2006 7:02:56 PM

The only reason to give a party a majority in either house of Congress is for them to govern. Governing means that sometimes you have to ensure that your party members exhibit some party discipline on KEY votes. Right?

What could be more of key vote than preventing a guy from getting a lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS with known positions that would upset the constitutional balance between the three branches of government?

The real failure here for the Dems was not being able to get ALL Dems in the Senate from voting yes on confirmation of Alito. If on this key vote, the Dems can't even uniformly oppose a really bad thing, then the question must be asked:

What is the point of giving the Dems a majority in the Senate if on a key vote they won't be able to govern? They can't insist on the party position prevailing, so the advantages of the majority won't be exercised.

I've given up on the current crop of Congressional Dems. Let the Repubs have their way as long as the people can stomach it. I will not contribute to the collective organs of the Dem party (as I have in the past) - the DNC, DSCC, DCCC - until the party is ready and able to enforce party discipline on key votes. I will contribute to individual members, but only if I am convinced they are Dems that will act like Dems and act like they want to govern in a liberal/progressive manner.

Fah! on these weak-kneed Dem. congresscritters.

Good news today from the Pacific Northwest. The Washington legislature has passed in both houses a bill to add gays and lesbians to the state anti-discrimination statute. It will be signed by the Governor Monday morning. ALL Dems voted for this, plus one Republican - the Microsoft district person.

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Jan 27, 2006 7:08:05 PM

Captain Toke - the American people certainly do support a filibuster of Alito, if you ask would they support it if it looked like he would overturn Roe. From the way the fundies are jumping up and down for joy, only an idiot would believe that Alito won't vote against Roe the first chance he gets.

And it can be argued that, with a 40% approval rating, obstructing Bush is exactly what the country wants right now.

Posted by: Michael Sheridan | Jan 27, 2006 7:22:58 PM

Maybe Roe v Wade is bad law. The American people don't know that if Roe is overturned, abortion becomes a state issue. I am sure CA, NY, WA etc. will legalize abortion on demand, but the fact is most legal scholars believe Roe was wrongly decided. The right to an abortion is not in the constitution.

By the way, the filibustering Democrats are obstructing senate business, not Bush. They are obstructing hurricane relief, senate NSA hearings, etc. Oh yeah, Bush isn't running for anything again, so I am not too worried about that approval rating.

The American people think Alito should be confirmed. Fifty four percent think he should be confirmed. As a matter of fact,

"But a majority of the respondents -- 55 percent -- said Alito's stand on abortion was only of limited importance to them."

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 27, 2006 7:53:53 PM

Christ, I can't believe you people are jumping on Ezra for just telling the truth. The Dems muffed up the opportunity for a fillibuster. Period. If 70% of Americans wouldn't support Alito if they thought he'd overrule Roe yet a majority supports him, it means that the Dems have been doing something wrong. They screwed up the hearings majorily, if they'd done it right a fillibuster might be viable. But they didn't. Reid needs to clear house on the Judiciary Committee, culling deadweight like Kohl and Kennedy and putting on people like Obama.

Oh and calling from fuckign Switzerland. Jebus, look at the optics.

Posted by: Jacob | Jan 27, 2006 8:05:35 PM


a filibuster requires discipline among the Senate Democrats, and does not hinge on opinion polls for its viability. A filibuster is the right thing to do on the merits. This appointment is not a trifling matter.

Whether Kerry called for the filibuster from Switzerland or from Boston is really of no consequence whatsoever to the issue at hand, except as a Republican talking point.

And by the way, Ezra's "truth" is merely his opinion, and as such subject to debate and criticism. If you feel, on the contrary, that Ezra is indeed the final repository of truth and the ultimate arbiter of opinion, then I can see why you might find this comments forum to be a superfluous annoyance.


Posted by: zeke | Jan 27, 2006 8:22:20 PM

Kerry played the left and the left is still dancing. Cold, very cold. Ezra's got it right.

Posted by: ZacZaca | Jan 27, 2006 8:25:40 PM

Zaca Zaca,

If the left begins modulating its behavior based on personalities rather than on principles, then they will have been well and truly "played."

I find Lieberman to be unctuous and spineless in equal measure, for instance, but if he makes a proposal that accords with my principles, he will have my support for that proposal.

I get the sense that Ezra would have supported the filibuster if it had been proposed by Feingold, but poo-poos it because it has instead been spearheaded by Kerry. I may be wrong about that, but if Ezra would not support the filibuster in any instance, I'd like to know why not.

Posted by: zeke | Jan 27, 2006 8:38:34 PM

Yep, it's the optics. If Dems had set up a filibuster from the start...maybe. But now? Kerry calls for it...from Switzerland? Other Dems get afraid for their 08 prospects and sign on? That would be a media narrative we couldn't help but lose.

Posted by: Ezra | Jan 27, 2006 8:41:11 PM

Captain Toke: ". . . most legal scholars believe Roe was wrongly decided. The right to an abortion is not in the constitution."

I'm unaware of any actual study that has polled "legal scholars" and determined whether they think Roe was properly decided, so you'll excuse me if I think you're blowing smoke there. And are you going to argue that there is no right to privacy in the Constitution, either? That would certainly make the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, the spying on Quaker peace activists, the surveillance of vegans (vegans, for chrissakes!) all just peachy-keen by you, right?

And for your WaPo poll, try this more recent one from CNN.

I almost wish you guys would get in and overturn Roe - you'll be out of government for a generation, because the majority of the country doesn't want Roe overturned.

Posted by: Michael Sheridan | Jan 27, 2006 8:54:37 PM

1. Kerry is keeping a campaign promise.
2. Democrats need to stand for something, win or lose. If they let this guy pass, what do they stand for?
3. If the public doesn't understand this or the next however many filibusters, then we haven't got the right message out. Bush could always decide to do the right thing and nominate a non-contentious candidate Yeah, I know he won't either, but how is that the Democrats fault?

Posted by: Ted | Jan 27, 2006 10:45:13 PM

1. Kerry is being an opportunist, just as he has his whole life (remember he took a video camera to Vietnam, he married two wealthy women).

2. The Democrats are standing against a perfectly qualified nominee. Democrats think it is OK to oppose a SCOTUS nominee simply because he is conservative. Democrats need to accept that conservatives won the election.

3. The Democrats got their message out. America doesn't agree with the message.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 27, 2006 11:02:46 PM

I would not be very surprised to find numerous Rovian Republicans calling in to their Senators and asking them to support a filibuster. From their perspective it would be a double win. Alito gets seated (and as something of a martyr no less) and the Democrats get more opportunities to make themselves look bad and very "left" -- so "left" as to be written off.

Posted by: Terry Ott | Jan 27, 2006 11:11:57 PM

Captain Toke,

Light up another spliff and stick it up your ass. It will hurt like hell, but it may serve to clear your brain of the fevered THC delusions that swirl like malignant mists through the folds of your shrunken lobes.

Posted by: zeke | Jan 27, 2006 11:14:51 PM

Toke is full of shit. The constitutional right to abortion is rock-solid, logically speaking - practically speaking, not so much, especially after Alito takes his place on the Court.

Posted by: Dadahead | Jan 27, 2006 11:51:19 PM

Ted's right. Kerry is keeping a campaign promise. He swore he'd filibuster a judge who met the conditions that Altio does. The press began repeating the quote he gave on the matter back in 2003. And now he's trying to act on it.

Personally, I've (I'd say we've) no way of knowing whether he's being cyncial or being a fightin' Dem on the merits or, most probably, some combination. Does it matter?

Also, it's not just Kerry. It's also Kennedy, who has no presidential ambitions.

The real problem was that until the NYT editors jumped in, the Dems had done nothing to lay the groundwork for a filibuster call, engaging in their usual passive-aggression and confused speculation over what to do. That's not Kerry's fault -- he's been out there agitating against Altio -- but because of it, his filibuster attempt looks desperate and quixotic.

Kerry is, IMO, an awful politician. He's a good performer but a terrible strategist. Even if a filibuster is the right thing (debatable I'd say, but I could be persuaded), a failed filibuster attempt won't help Kerry; it'll probably hurt him by making him look weak. But unless it is obviously also going to hurt the party in the process, it's beside the point. I'm frankly happy to see him demonstrating some spunk.

Posted by: Laura | Jan 28, 2006 3:32:09 AM

"The constitutional right to abortion is rock-solid,"

Please, show me where in the constitution it says a women has a right to an abortion.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 28, 2006 9:38:51 AM

I agree about the optics of Switzerland, and about the lateness, and about the ineffectuality. But:

A filibuster, in the best case scenario that we win the aftermath, simply sets up the nomination of Michael Luttig.

...who recently delivered a public smack to the Bush Administration over the imperial presidency. That alone makes him a massive improvement over "signing statement" Alito. Of course, Luttig also destroyed his chances of getting the nomination, but it's ridiculous to think that we couldn't do better than Alito; is Alito a Miers clone?

Posted by: Matt Weiner | Jan 28, 2006 10:24:15 AM

It's not that we couldn't but that Bush wouldn't.

Posted by: Ezra | Jan 28, 2006 10:49:21 AM

"I do, however, blame Kerry for cynically seeking rapprochement with the left by dangling the hopes of a filibuster he knew would never happen, would never succeed."

Ease up on Kerry, Ezra. Success isn't getting Alito rejected, its getting your voice heard.

You want to do a head count and know that you'll win at the end of the day, but the Democrats are in the minority at the moment and have to take every opportunity to be heard on matters that are important to them. A filibuster, even if held only for a short time, will show progressives that there are people in the party who are willing to fight for them. At the worst, it refutes the claim that Democrats don't stand for anything.

The minority is expected to lose these confrontations, but they're guaranteed to lose when they refuse to fight at all. Last year they were "certain" to lose the Social Security debate and were called fools for not compromising with Bush. Bush backs down when he thinks he'll lose these fights and every small success makes the Democrats look like a party worth voting for.

And seriously, do you really think Bush is less likely to nominate Luttig next time if he gets an easy win on this one?

Posted by: mike | Jan 28, 2006 2:11:27 PM

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