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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

As I said here on May 17, I was about to comment on what was then Charles Krauthammer’s latest piece of invective, when my dog died and all else became unimportant. I’ve calmed down a little now so I’ll make just a short comment on the good Doctor’s recent exercise in partisan logic.

Krauthammer really outdid himself a couple of weeks ago, asserting that the Democrats were perpetuating a "fraud" when they claimed that what they were doing in opposing Presidential judicial nominations was rooted in tradition. Ain’t no such tradition said Dr. K. He then went on to dismiss the filibuster against Abe Fortas in 1968 and other such efforts by Republicans to use the filibuster for such a purpose as either being acceptable because of unusual circumstances - the nomination of Fortas was for promotion to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court rather than for an initial appointment to the bench - or irrelevant because of lack of success.

Having dismissed existing precedent with that flight of partisan logic, he preceded to insist that the Democrats are breaking tradition - that there is an unwritten rule that you do not filibuster judicial nominees.

Using that kind of logic, I guess you can say that there is an unwritten rule that a President doesn’t send up a judicial nominee that he or she knows will be voted "up and down" strictly along party lines and split the nation down the middle at the same time. If that were the case, this "Uniter not a Divider" President is breaking that rule and establishing a new level of Presidential pig-headedness that will be hard to match in future administrations.

It would seem to me that it is the President and the majority party who are breaking "unwritten rules" by trying to jam through each and every judicial nomination without any consultation (the "advise" of advise and consent) with members of the opposition - and it is that partisan, self righteous stubbornness of the President that has provoked the admittedly somewhat unusual use of a 200 year old Senate tradition - the filibuster - to attempt to block a handful of highly unacceptable judicial nominees.

Krauthammer tries to couch his arguments in terms of "Senate tradition" but he’s been writing a column for a long time and we know him for what he is - and it is pretty clear from the denunciatory language that he uses that what motivates him to rail against the Senate minority for trying to keep a few people with nutty ideas off the Federal bench is partisanship and only partisanship.

I could put Krauthammer to the test by asking him what kind of column he would write if faced with a somewhat different set of circumstances, but he wouldn’t respond to me - and if he did respond, I’d be willing to give heavy odds that he’d lie rather than own up to being the dyed-in-the-wool partisan that he is. Still, I’ll describe such a test…..

The year is 2012. President Clinton has just started her second term in office and as one of her first actions, has sent a nominee to the Senate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Judge Julius Jacob Cobblecomb of the Fifth Fee Fi Fo Fum Court of Appeals is a firm supporter of gay marriage, the International Criminal Court, government funded stem cell research, strict Federal gun control laws, resuming normal relations with Cuba and outlawing the death penalty. He is firmly against teaching Creationism in schools, tax exemption for religious organizations, the words "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance, has publicly expressed regret over the demise of the Soviet Union and thinks the establishment of Israel was illegal.

The Senate makeup is 55 Democrats, 43 Republicans, 1 Independent, and 1 "Not Exactly Sure - depends on the issue, the day of the week, the time of the month and the season of the year" - John McCain of Arizona.

The President has called for an "up or down" vote. Debate has been raging on the Senate floor for days with no end in sight and with Republican Senators excoriating the nominee, saying that Judge Cobblecomb is the worst possible selection whose values and beliefs are way outside of mainstream values and beliefs. Democrats are insisting that the President has the right to nominate who she pleases and that her nomination should be put to a vote without further delay. Yes or no. Up or down.

The editor of the Washington Post sends Krauthammer a memo asking him what he thinks about this mess and suggesting that he talk about it in a future column. Maybe with something about Senate traditions as a theme.

What kind of a column do you think Charlie would write?

I rest my case.