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Monday, February 14, 2005

Most baldfaced lie I've read today

In tomorrow's New York Times (and probably elsewhere), you'll find this statement of opinion, immediately followed by two assertions of fact, made by the duly elected voice of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate:

"The president is at it again with the extremist judges," said Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat is the minority leader.

Mr. Reid said the Senate had made clear its position on the seven nominees.

"We should not divert attention from other pressing issues facing this nation to redebate the merits of nominees already found too extreme by this chamber," he said.

Sen. Harry Reid is a liar.

None of the seven judicial nominees just resubmitted by President Bush have ever received an up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate. None of them were voted down by "this chamber." The only portion of the Senate to "[make] clear its position on these seven judicial nominees" were the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — a tiny minority of the minority party — whose abuse of procedural rules has permitted them to deny these nominees the floor vote contemplated by the Constitution.

I don't know what percentage of the voting public genuinely understands the Senate's advice and consent role with respect to judicial nominees in general. But I'm quite sure that only a tiny fraction of the electorate understands that the total number of senators who have successfully colluded to deny an up-or-down vote to President Bush's nominees could fit comfortably in an average-sized minivan, and would leave the gap between second and third bases empty if they tried to field a baseball team.

So when Sen. Reid solemnly looks into the cameras and intones that "the Senate" has made clear its position, and that "this chamber" has "already found" these nominees to be "too extreme," only that tiny fraction will immediately recognize that the Honorable Gentleman from Searchlight, Nevada, is deliberately, brazenly lying through his teeth. It's not spin; it's not interpretation or opinion; it's not debatable. It's just a damned lie.

Restoring the constitutional integrity of the judicial nomination process for the third co-equal branch of the federal government isn't at the top of the list of national priorities. But I can count the more important issues on one hand with fingers left over.  Sen. Reid's suggestion that the Senate just is too busy with other more important matters is almost tantamount to another bald-faced lie. But at least it's the kind of slanted misinformation common to politicians — a matter of opinion rather than pure fact.

The so-called "nuclear option" — a term frought with rhetorical overkill for a procedural countermove that will do nothing more than oblige the Senate to perform its constitutional duty — looks more attractive to me every day. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was quoted today as saying he believes that he has the votes to employ it if need be. It will be ugly, provoking much wailing and moaning and doubtless more desperate spin and outright lies from the likes of Sen. Reid. But if it's handled properly, it will have the important collateral benefit of educating some larger fraction of the public.

And that will be a good thing, because in the end, Harry Reid and his party can't continue to lie through their teeth effectively to people who already know better.

Posted by Beldar at 10:51 PM in Law (2006 & earlier), Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Most baldfaced lie I've read today and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Beldar Takes Nuclear Option from Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog

Tracked on Feb 15, 2005 12:40:11 AM

» Nuke 'em, Danno from Three Rounds Brisk

Tracked on Feb 15, 2005 1:05:16 AM

» Harry Reid: Jack Mormon? from UNCoRRELATED

Tracked on Feb 15, 2005 7:13:18 PM

» End Filibustering Of Judicial Appointees Now from Villainous Company

Tracked on Feb 16, 2005 6:38:54 AM


(1) Bullfighter made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 11:41:02 PM | Permalink

So what are we waiting for? Surely, the Majority Leader can't possibly believe that Sen. Reid & Company are suddenly going to see the errors of their means and ways.

I say, let's nuke 'em...sooner rather than later!

(2) TmjUtah made the following comment | Feb 15, 2005 1:07:03 AM | Permalink

If Bush had resubmitted one or two, some horse trading might be in order.

If the Democrats were serious about governing at all, at least. It's nothing but power and how to keep what little they have, now.

Twenty resubs? Here's comes SAC...

(3) Patterico made the following comment | Feb 15, 2005 1:47:41 AM | Permalink

Or at least the conventional warfare option, which would at least bring to the public's attention the fact that these nominees have the support of a majority of Senators.

(4) Birkel made the following comment | Feb 15, 2005 5:58:59 AM | Permalink

I'm glad you're back to blogging. I've been checking periodically and was glad to see you return. Moved you from my "sometimes" blog list to "everyday."

One thought on this post:

I never thought I'd read Beldar was brandishing the "Liar Finger."

I'm not saying you're wrong. I've always liked the passion and doggedness you bring to this venture; surely Reid's comment riled you more than most. But I never thought I'd read it.

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 15, 2005 9:50:16 AM | Permalink

A nice point, Birkel, that deserves a full response.

I'm very prepared to cut some slack in assessing the motivations for truthfulness of soldiers and sailors regarding whether there was incoming enemy small arms fire in the immediate aftermath of a mine explosion that had seriously wounded several colleagues.

To the best of my knowledge, however, there've been no literal mine detonations on the Senate floor; if Sen. Reid is dazed, it's not because of concussion effects.

Sen. Reid can't just be honestly mistaken or confused on something like this. The Congressional Record would show it if there had been a floor vote; there wasn't, and there's no room for good faith argument that there ever was.

I am convinced that Sen. Reid wants the inattentive portion of the public — and especially that portion predisposed to believe that Dubya wants "extremist judges" — to believe that the full Senate has already turned down these nominees and that the damned subborn cowboy from Texas is flogging a dead horse while the noble senators are trying to get on about saving the world. Short of that, he wants people to infer that all of the Senate Democrats were united in opposing these nominees.

Neither is true; rather, as a matter of deliberate party policy, the Dems filibustered every nominee who was unanimously opposed by the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee. It's not forty-one senators blocking nominees who are entitled to be seated based on a simple-majority vote. It's just the Democratic members on the Judiciary Committee who've made the decision who'd be filibustered and who wouldn't be (eight of them this year; I seem to recall that the committee was just enlarged, and it may have been seven or six last year).

(6) Birkel made the following comment | Feb 15, 2005 10:24:53 AM | Permalink


Naturally, as you'll likely recall from our previous exchanges, I'm predisposed to think you're correct. And I think he's purposefully misrepresenting the facts as you suggest. Still, it just strikes me as the natural course of things over the last few years.

I guess I'm not as moved by it. I sort of expect this level of deception from many politicians. That's why my respect for Congressman Frank has grown over the last couple of weeks. Ditto Senator Dodd.

Isn't it a terrible state of affairs when we congratulate people for telling the truth? I guess. No, strike that. Of course it's terrible. And perhaps we should all share your righteous indignation.

But doesn't it say more about us, the people, that we aren't up in arms about it.

Hmm, for that matter, I wonder why my first instinct was to search your archives.

But then, I know the answer to that. I actually hold you in quite a bit higher regard than most politicians.

For what it's worth.

(7) Cassandra made the following comment | Feb 16, 2005 6:45:27 AM | Permalink

Lovely post, as always Beldar.
As a non-lawyer, it was nice to see you weigh in on this. I've had a strong opinion on this for a long time but hesitated to opine.

Thanks for bringing your usual clarity to the issue - this and your prior post were both good reads.

(8) SemiPundit made the following comment | Feb 16, 2005 8:40:36 AM | Permalink

I believe that this issue is being overthought. Senator Reid essentially said that the appointments have not survived the structural and procedural journey through the Senate.

If the shoe were on the other foot, it would be considered a good and noble thing wouldn't it?

(9) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 18, 2005 3:08:27 PM | Permalink

Semi: That's a deft reinterpretation, but that's not at all what Sen. Reid said, nor the impression he tried to leave. If he'd said what you said, he wouldn't have been lying, he'd have been spinning. But he didn't; he chose to lie.

Moreover, the "structural and procedural journey" must be changed if it allows eight senators — any eight, Democrat or Republican, shoe on either foot — to abort the Senate's advice and consent role through their unilateral actions.

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