Jewish World Review June 1, 2005 / 23 Iyar,
At least you can't call Dems two-faced
Pardon me while I wipe the egg off my face. Last week I was one
of only a handful of conservatives praising the Senate compromise on
judicial nominees, which preserved the filibuster while guaranteeing several
of President Bush's most conservative nominees an up-or-down vote. I argued
that Democrats would be chastened into using the filibuster judiciously
only "under extraordinary circumstances" in the words of the compromise
itself. Boy was I wrong. In less than a week, the Democrats were back to
their old tricks, this time filibustering the nomination of John Bolton to
be U.N. ambassador.
I know "the deal," as it's come to be known, did not formally
bind Democrats to forgoing all future filibusters on judicial nominees, much
less other executive appointments. But the spirit of the compromise was to
render the filibuster the exception, not the rule, in dealing with Bush
nominees. And even if all Democrats were not bound by it, the signatories
certainly had some obligation to abide by its spirit. Yet, by week's end,
only three of the seven Democrats who signed onto the compromise were
willing to invoke cloture on the Bolton nomination, which would have allowed
the nominee to be confirmed or rejected by the full Senate.
Democrat Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and
Ken Salazar (Colo.) all of whom promised that only "extraordinary
circumstances" would justify a filibuster nonetheless voted against
ending debate on Bolton. Three other Democrat signatories and all seven
Republicans who forged the compromise supported allowing the nomination to
move to a vote. One Democrat signer, Sen. Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), and one
moderate Republican who was not part of the compromise group, Sen. Arlen
Specter (Pa.), did not cast votes on the cloture motion. So, Bolton's
nomination remains in limbo.
Key Democrats claim they are only using the threatened
filibuster to force the administration to turn over classified documents.
They want to know why, as undersecretary of state for arms control, Bolton
sought the identity of some American citizens whose names were blocked out
in certain intelligence intercepts and are hoping the documents themselves
might reveal a motive. But the chairman and the ranking Democrat of the
Senate Intelligence Committee have seen the documents in question and say
there is nothing unusual or incriminating about them which suggests that
the stalling technique is simply more partisan gamesmanship.
There's still time for cooler Democratic heads to prevail. Sens.
Byrd, Lieberman, Salazar and Inouye could still do the right thing and vote
for cloture on the Bolton nomination when the Senate comes back from its
Memorial Day recess. But I'm not holding my breath. Bipartisanship has come
to be a one-way affair. No matter how unprincipled the Democrats behave,
they are rarely called to account. Only when Republicans cave in to
Democratic demands do we hear accolades about statesmanship.
I still don't like the "nuclear option," but the Democrats may
leave Republicans no choice. There's still one last chance to salvage the
compromise, but the Democrats have to play fair and abide by its spirit as
well as its words.
JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)