Carol Platt Liebau: "Chipping Away" at Dems' Filibuster Effort?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"Chipping Away" at Dems' Filibuster Effort?

According to this piece, that's exactly what the GOP is doing -- "chipping away at the Dems' filibuster efforts."

Interesting headline . . . because much of the piece was devoted to lawmakers who are, in fact, doing nothing of the sort. Senator Richard Lugar, for instance, is just hoping desperately for a compromise, although he hinted that he might stick with the Republicans on this one.

(Interesting thought experiment: If the shoe were on the other foot and Republicans were in the minority, what Democrat (besides Joe Lieberman) would be pausing one second to call for compromise, negotiation and moderation?)

Most notably disappointing is Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska. After his preening, sanctimonious performance this morning on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," there's not much that Hagel could do to induce me to vote for him -- EVER. He possesses all John McCain's moral vanity without any of the plainspoken charm.

Hagel's most infuriating quote of the morning -- included in this piece -- is the following: "When we talk religion and government, neither should become an instrument for the other." He repeated it twice, and so obviously believes it's a profound point.

He's wrong. The point is incoherent. If a faith-based charity helps get people off welfare and improve their lives -- religion being used as a tool of government -- isn't that a good thing? And if one's religious beliefs constitute the basis for one's political stances, does that constitute an impermissible Hagelian incidence of government becoming the tool of religion? Hate to break it to Sen. Hagel, but that's the what the Democrats are arguing -- especially when they vote against fine Catholic nominees like William Pryor. What Hagel considers to be a clever formulation is actually pretty meaningless (and diametrically opposed to many of the injunctions of our Founding Fathers, who believed that religion and government were inextricably, though unofficially, intertwined).

Hagel's particularly misguided, insofar as he delivered this "bon mot" once in response to a query about Bill Frist speaking to a religious organization about the constitutional option. Would someone PLEASE explain to me how a senator speaking to people of faith somehow constitutes religion becoming an instrument for government, or vice-versa?

The point here is simple. A group in the minority (Democratic) party is attempting to prevent certain judicial nominees, who would win confirmation from the full Senate, from EVER receiving a vote on their nominations. Certainly, the Senate must and should respect minority rights -- but that traditional respect has never extended to offering the opposition party, when in the minority, the right to exercise a de facto veto over presidential nominations. What the Democrats are doing is, in fact, an abuse of the filibuster and of their constitutional obligation to "advise and consent."

Plain as can be. As the snippy newscaster on Saturday Night Live might have said, "Chuck Hagel -- look into it."


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