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January 30, 2006
The Reluctant Filibusterers

Senate Democrats went to the airwaves yesterday to express their dissatisfaction with Samuel Alito's nomination, but also with the filibuster that their base has pushed them into attempting. So-called "rock star" Barack Obama of Illinois blamed Democrats for an overreliance on procedural tactics and an inability to convince voters of the erosion of their "values":

"We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we're going to oppose a nominee that we've got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake," Obama said.

"There is an over-reliance on the part of Democrats for procedural maneuvers," he told ABC's "This Week." ...

Obama cast Alito as a judge "who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values."

But Obama joined some Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Charles Schumer of New York, in expressing his unhappiness with the filibuster bid. "There's one way to guarantee that the judges who are appointed to the Supreme Court are judges that reflect our values. And that's to win elections," Obama said.

At least one Democrat understands that elections have consequences, but Obama doesn't connect the dots all the way. In truth, Alito represents a mainstream school of thought that argues the court has arrogated far too much power to itself over the last several decades, and the only solution for that requires the appointment of judges that will send policy questions back to Congress where they belong. Alito has 2-1 support for confirmation among American voters. Bush won two elections and the Republicans won ever-growing majorities in the Senate based in large part on their views of the judiciary. People want judges like Alito confirmed, and that's the point of saying that elections have consequences.

Other Democrats remain clueless, pledging to block Alito even as they criticize the use of the filibuster. Joe Biden wants to eat his cake and have it too, as he told CNN that he would vote for a filibuster even though it was unwise to do so:

"I think a filibuster make sense when you have a prospect of actually succeeding," Biden said on CNN's "Late Edition." "I will vote one time to say to continue the debate. but the truth of the matter" is that Alito will be confirmed, he said.

That's why Delaware sends you to the Senate, Mr. Biden -- to participate in stupid, empty gestures. It seems that a number of Democrats feel the same way, but they fail to account for their constituents who believe that engaging in McCarthyite smear tactics does not actually fall within the boundaries of Senatorial privilege. Judge Alito's record shows him as a superior candidate for the Supreme Court, more qualified than anyone in 70 years on the basis of his long service on the appellate bench, and the obstructionism of the Democrats is the only part of this process that truly lies outside of the values of the American people.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 30, 2006 6:48 AM

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