Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Democrats squirm and lie about filibuster

Harry Reid, Senate minority leader, was oozing on NPR on Monday about the coming filibuster showdown, in which Senate Republicans have threatened to use a simple parliamentary procedure to declare that “advise and consent” of judicial nominees does not include filibustering. Harry Reid didn’t want it to happen. [I don’t either. See below.] He’s looking for a few brave men, “six profiles in courage” from among the Republicans, he called them in his simple illiterate way. Reid wants them to break party ranks and join the solidly partisan Democrats to keep the Senate safe for Democrats.

Reid told NPR that several Republicans had come up to him to say they agreed completely with him about the sacredness of the filibuster, even to block votes on judges, but they could not cross party leaders. “Is that a profile in courage? I ask you” whined Reid.

Reid thinks it a terrible thing when Republicans let political considerations overrule personal convictions. Why, it’s as bad as when Democrats like John Kerry let political considerations override a personal conviction that human life begins at conception to vote 100% pro-abortion, he didn't say. On that note, it is little surprise and no coincidence that of the five Catholic Republican Senators who are among the seven Republicans most likely to vote in support of the Democrats, three are pro-abortion (John Sununu, NH; Lisa Murkowski, AK; and Susan Collins, ME) and one is soft on “gay marriage” (Mike DeWine, OH). (The fifth Catholic among the potential turn-coats, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, is firmly anti-abortion, whatever his partisan failings.)

As for the “Constitutional option”, or “nuclear option”, I think Majority Leader Frist would be making a mistake to summarily cut off the filibuster. The thing is, the Democrats haven’t actually had to filibuster to block President Bush’s nominees. Under current Senate practice, the minority just has to announce that it is going to “filibuster”, and it is taken as done. Frist should call the Democrats to put up or shut up. If they really feel impelled to keep the nation safe from the likes of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, let them stand on the Senate floor 24/7, droning the encyclopædia, telephone books, and John Kerry’s speeches into the Congressional Record.

As I finish this, the debate is going on in the Senate. Reid has been on the radio, claiming that if the filibuster is outlawed, then the majority will be able to appoint “extremist right-wing judges”. Meanwhile, someone in a “filibuster” to persuade the loathsome Specter to vote with the Democrats. He warns that without the filibuster, the Republicans will have unchecked ability to appoint Supreme Court justices, who will take away rights regarding the environment and work and stuff. An academic commentator then pushed the romantic myth that the filibuster lets one person who is willing to talk and talk all night until he is blue in the face prevent an action unless 60% of the Senate vote to shut him up.

Circular reasoning always makes me queasy, but these guys are begging the question under the pretext of name-calling. Our demonstrator would have us forget that part of the question is judges’ creating rights beyond the Constitution, and Reid’s “right-wing judges” is an undefined term that Reid is claiming the sole prerogative of defining.



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