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John Kerry has plunged his party into an internecine squabble this afternoon by pushing for a filibuster on Samuel Alito's confirmation, a sure losing strategy even with Dianne Feinstein's late reversal on her pledge to give Alito an up-or-down vote. The pandering to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and People For The American Way has dragged Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer back to the parliamentary procedure they'd hope to save for a possible retirement by John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsburg and set off a public argument over the foolishness of fighting lost causes in an election year:
Long-smoldering Democratic dissension flared openly Friday as liberals sought support for a last-minute filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito against the advice of leaders worried about a backlash in the 2006 elections. ....
Two of the party's Senate leaders, Harry Reid of Nevada and Charles Schumer of New York, privately made clear their unhappiness with the strategy, even though they, too, oppose Alito's confirmation. And Rep. Harold Ford, seeking a Senate seat in Republican-leaning Tennessee, dismissed the filibuster approach openly.
"It does not appear that there is any reason to hold up a vote. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will move quickly to bring this process to a dignified end," he said.
Ford wasn't the only Democrat to go on record opposing a filibuster. Kent Conrad, who faces a red-state electorate in an uphill battle for re-election this year in North Dakota, ticked off a number of reasons to oppose blocking Alito's nomination:
In an interview, Conrad said that in remarks to fellow Democrats at the caucus, he outlined several factors. These included Alito's strong backing from the American Bar Association, his uncontested confirmation 15 years ago to the appeals court, public opinion polls and the fact that Republicans had voted overwhelmingly to confirm Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer when President Clinton nominated them.
"So I put that all together and I find it makes it hard to justify a filibuster," Conrad said.
Put that together with the three Democrats who have already agreed to vote for his confirmation and one can see that a filibuster has little hope of succeeding. Even if a few Republicans may not vote for Alito's confirmation, none of them will be stupid enough to join a filibuster, especially with Democrats crossing the aisle to support Alito. But even if the filibuster succeeds, the entire exercise will explode in the faces of the liberals. Frist has pledged to go with the Byrd option in the event of a successful filibuster on a Supreme Court nomination, and he already has the support of enough of the GOP part of the Gang of 14 to get it passed.
What will the Democrats win from all this? They will have momentarily obstructed a nominee who has the support of 2/3rds of the country for confirmation, proving yet again to be nothing more than knee-jerk obstructionists. They will have lost the filibuster for all the other judicial nominations, which would mean a return of Henry Saad to the list. It will also mean that if Stevens or Ginsburg leave the court in the next three years -- a distinct possibility -- the Democrats will have no means to stop Janice Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owen from taking their place. They will have lost all leverage with which to bargain. And along the way, they will have once again emphasized their inability to produce anything positive with all of the smear tactics and character assassination in which they indulged, a chapter so shameful that even their own senior member stood on the floor of the Senate and called it a "disgrace".
However, John Kerry may prove to be the consummate party leader of this era. He gladly led the party to an across-the-board loss against a vulnerable president during a divisive war, and now he gleefully calls for their further humiliation and degradation while playing on the slopes of the Swiss Alps, as far from the fight as he can get. It's the Era of Absent Maturity for Democrats, and Kerry may well be its poster boy.
UPDATE: Priscilla Owen, not Brown. (h/t: CQ reader Steve F.)Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Hillary to join Kerry and Kennedy in support of Alito filibuster from Sister Toldjah
Breaking with top Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton has announced that she will join Sens. Kerry and Kennedy in supporting a filibuster for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Via Newsday: WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday an... [Read More]
Tracked on January 28, 2006 8:12 AM
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