THE FILIBUSTER

THE FILIBUSTER….I remain unconvinced by the filibuster eliminationists, eg., who argue that we should partially, if not fully, learn to stop worrying and love the nuclear option. I stand by what I wrote yesterday on my own blog, specifically that the filibuster prolongs the debate phase of bill passage, which is generally the only stage the media covers and we hear about. By slowing things down with a dramatic gesture, the filibuster draws public attention to something that might otherwise have been rubber-stamped without notice and allows us some time to read up and maybe even lobby our representatives. Mark Schmitt provides a great example of an extremely harmful sleeper bill that he helped his employer, then Senator Bill Bradley, filibuster.

Jon Cohn brings the discussion around to political realities in his anti-filibuster essay in The New Republic.

This isn’t to say Democrats should simply forfeit the fight over conservative judges or any other matter. But, in the long run, it is a mistake to make such battles about legislative process rather than public values. Excessive appeals to parliamentary fairness merely reinforce the public’s sense that Democrats care more about legalisms than the difference between right and wrong. This perception is particularly important given the Democrats’ image of weakness on national security. Americans care about fair play and they don’t want one-party rule. But they also seem to crave strength and moral clarity in the battle against terrorism.

It’s a good point, but Democrats could make a moral case for the filibuster. Not that I put too much stock in poll numbers after they lead me on so cruelly in the last election, but with Congress’s approval rating at a new low and 41% of Republicans opposing eliminating filibusters for judicial nominees, I’d like to see Democrats take a principled stance on governmental in the sunshine and public accountability. I think it looks better than capitulating to this, anyway.