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It's looking increasingly likely that the Democrats will have at least 41 "no," votes on ScAlito, i.e., the minimum number needed to launch a filibuster.  However, despite the fact that Democrats will have the power to launch the filibuster, it's looking sadly as if they will refrain from doing so.  

And that is too bad, because a filibuster will help Democrats prevail in the upcoming midterm elections.

A filibuster will almost certainly push the Alito fight to the top of the political agenda, and will thus drown out Bush's post-SOTU attempt to control the debate, as Rove stated was Bush's plan just the other day.  

Thus, after the SOTU, the number one story won't be Bush's speech, but instead will be the debate over the right to choose, the right to privacy, the protection of the environment, the rights of individuals vs. corporations, and all the other issues on which Democrats play well with American voters.  Any time you focus the debate on issues in your favor, it helps politically.

A filibuster will also show once and for all that the Democrats are willing to stand firmly for what they believe in, and are willing to fight for their values.  The Democrats lost that image among the body politic when they caved on the Iraq war.  A sense of being willing to fight when it counts helps with swing voters.  Just look at how well Feingold did in Wisconsin in 2004, despite the fact that his positions are far more liberal than that of the average Wisconsin voter.  Backbone is a good political quality, and one Democrats desperately need.

And even if we lose the battle, because the Republicans launch the nuclear option, it would have been worth it.  The nuclear option takes the burden off the Democrats of being the "extreme" party, with the filibuster, and puts it squarely on the Republicans.  It will show Republicans once again to be lawless, and that they are willing to break the rules when it suits them.  (The Nuclear Option, Democrats will explain, is therefore just like the Abramoff scandal, with it's bribe taking and campaign finance lawbreaking, and the NSA scandal, where Republicans wiretapped US citizens without warrants, in violation of federal law).

We can win this case politically.  And we would have a ok shot at stopping Alito as well.  This is a sound political strategy, and a potential win-win.   Let's hope Senate Democrats agree.

Originally posted to pontificator on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 05:00 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm not sure thats guranteed (none)
    while i support a filibuster, if not just on principle, there is still the risk that the debate wont be on right to choose and presidential power but will be on how naughty those obstructionist democrats are being.

    I certainly don't think the filibuster is riskless by any stretch.  In fact, I would say that it carries significant risk.

    •  There's always risk (4.00)
      But in recent years Democrats have been all too willing to shy away from risk and take a timid approach, and it has killed them in elections.  Perhaps it's time for a new strategy.

      Oh when the frogs. . Come marching in. . Oh when the FROGS COME MARCH-ING IN!

      by pontificator on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 05:03:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well they came out pretty strong in 2004 (none)
        or, lets say I think they came out pretty strong in 2004 (i'm sure many here disagree with that assessment)

        and i agree with you for the most part, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we should just ignore the risk for everything.  A judicial filibuster is one of the riskiest things that can be done at this point, because

        1. it can take away from Iraq
        2. it can take away from Abramoff
        3. could just make dems look obstructionist without bringing to light many of the points that we wanted to point out.

        Of course if it works the gain may be pretty significant.

        If anything, I think the Dems should just admit "yeah, we know it may be risky, but we're going to do it anyway, because of A, B, C, and D"

    •  Sure there's (none)
      some risk but we're dealing with an unpopular president. The majority of americans DON'T want his agenda passed. They may end up thanking us for this fillibuster if we do it.

      I'm too disgusted right now to think of a sig.

      by Ga6thDem on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 05:06:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes and no (none)
        there is also the belief that the president should be allowed who he wants unless its just totally obvious that he's bad, and that hasn't been shown.

        Of course, a filibuster can allow that to be shown, but the press may not allow it either.

      •  The problem... (none)
        Is that we don't really have the high moral ground on this issue (ultimately). Basically, the president DID win the election, and the Republicans DO have the votes in the Senate.

        Now of course they won the election in a nasty way, and the Republicans were complete assholes to Clinton's nominees, and have operated with complete bad faith on almost everything since 1994.

        But given the uneven media landscape--basically it's all right-wing talking points--I think it's FAR from guaranteed that we could out ahead from filibustering. And then there's the fact that Alito's "agenda" is completely abstract. WE say he's an extremist (which he, of course, is); but the Republicans will say: he's MAINSTREAM! And we can't point to anything tangible to prove otherwise. We don't KNOW he'll overturn Roe V. Wade (even though we know he will).

        Once again, the Republicans have the corporate media--a huge megaphone. We have...well, some blogs. I think we need to pick our issues very, very carefully. And if filibustering means we lose the filibuster for all other judges...I dunno.

        It's a tough call, I think.

        •  The president TOOK the election (none)
          He did not "win" it.
        •  High moral ground is ours (none)
          Alito is an admitted liar and sycophant who doesn't believe that there is a right to privacy and has a crackpot theory of executive power that elevates the President to the role of God-King. The entire purpose of the organization of the senate was to prevent a temporary majority from crushing the rights of the rest of the country.
          •  he's not mainstream (none)
            unitary presidency is NOT MAINSTREAM. he's a kook.  what are the risks? doyou think that Frist will try to completely destroy the filibuster on legislation? I don't think he wants to do that.

            That would be a sea change in American politics and Idon't think the public wants it.  Without a filibuster, would they try to pass privatization of SS? Idon't think so....

            We have to be an opposition.

            Treason's Greetings from Karl Rove and Scooter Libby: Merry Fitzmas and Happy New Smear

            by seesdifferent on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 07:14:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  We say he's extremist because of his record. (none)
          If he chooses to go into those hearings and refuse to answer questions (which he did) then all we have is his history to look to.  I have no idea why the Democrats keep pussy-footing around this basic fact.  You don't want to be straight with us today then all we have is your opinions from the past.  You have to be able to stand on those or explain them and be straight as to how you feel.  Alito did none of that.
          Filibuster......
  •  How About - BE SOMETHING ! STAND FOR (none)
    SOMETHING! DO SOMETHING!

    there are many sets of reasons for the Dems losing, and 1 of the most significant sets of reasons is the over-educated analysis which precludes seeing politics, seeing rove & ailes & atewater as -

    6th grade school yard bullies who beat up the little kids for their milk money.  

    politics is the school yard in a mean grammar school. period.

    politics ain't complicated,
    unless you are over-educated.

    wanna win?

    fucking stand for something, do something,

    AND MAKE THOSE SONS OF BITCHES PAY FOR EVERYTHING THEY DO!

    (disclaimer - i don't have any ivy degrees, so that is why i have such a base perspective)

    rmm.

    Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders" http://www.liemail.com/BambooGrassroots.html

    by rmdSeaBos on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 05:06:06 PM PST

  •  Aren't you the sly one (4.00)
    I'd never even thought about how a filibuster would drown out the SOTU. Very nice.

    Also ... we always complain here about how the electorate has such a short attention span. Doesn't it seem like they'd even have forgotten a filibuster attempt by the time they actually vote in 2006? I know we are fixated by the Alito fight, and the hardcore right is fixated by it, but I think the public thinks it's a big yawn. It's not as unforgettable as shutting down Congress or delaying Social Security checks. I doubt the apolitical (a majority in this country) honestly will get their dunders up about filibustering a judge. So there seems little downside to filibustering, to me at least (beyond the nuclear option being used and having an extremist appointed to a Kennedy vacancy on the court, which is a different discussion).

    •  Exacly... (none)
      The average American's attention span for politics is, what?  Two days?  
      Personally, I wish they'd done it before.  Even with the nuclear option.  I remember somewhere that Harry Reid said they'd slow down Congress if that happened.  I seriously think they should.  What's wrong with actually READING those bills out loud?  There's no reason whatsoever to have thousand of pages of bills being voted on that no one has read!  As far as I'm concerned, we can't get rid of these a-holes, but we can neuter them.  
  •  Filibuster (none)

    False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.--Socrates

    by Ranting Roland on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 05:22:09 PM PST

  •  I agree (none)
    a coordinated set of floor speeches during the 72 hour debate Bill Frist will schedule will force reporters to disseminate our Party's concerns.  Regular visits to talk shows, to C-SPAN's Washington Journal, to CNN and to other news organizations will consolidate a message the American people will be forced to digest.  And the juxtaposition of a whole suite of concerns on a whole set of related issues with a general attempt by the Republican Party to besmirch the reputation of the Democratic Party will allow us to be the Party of reason.  I say mount the filibuster.  But also prepare each Senator for the debate before it occurs.
  •  Pontificator, Petey Agrees with You (none)
    He posted this as a comment at The Next Hurrah:

    Ugh. I think the decision not to filibuster is a rather large error. The point of a filibuster is not purely about keeping Alito off the court, but instead about the 2006 elections, and also Harry Reid's political power.

    The beauty of a filibuster is that it would force the Republicans to go nuclear. That is the whole key to the strategy. If you are the incumbent party in Washington with a anti-incumbent tide rising in the county, the last thing you want is another "mess in Washington".

    How does it hurt Democrats in '06 if they filibuster and and the GOP successfully nukes the rules to put Alito on the court?  Feelings of GOP overreach are a huge engine of Democratic surge this fall.

    How does it hurt Democrats in '06 if they filibuster and and the GOP fails to line up 50 to ram Altio through by destroying the Senate rules?  It shows the nation that the Democratic position against Alito is the bipartisan centrist position.

    And finally, let's not forget about the minority leader factor. Harry Reid warned Bush against nominating Alito by name only days before the announcement.  Either Reid becomes a paper tiger to the detriment of all Democrats, or he backs up his warning.  Leadership politics is the highest stakes stuff there is.  If you make public threats, you better back them up.

    -----

    It's in the interests of Democrats to have a horrendous mess on Capitol Hill.  And the GOP is helpfully in a position where they'd have to be the ones lighting the match. By filibustering, we'd get to bait them into blowing the place up.  It's textbook stuff for the "out" party. Hasn't anyone been studying their Gingrich? Ugh.

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 06:01:56 PM PST

  •  Some Problems (none)
    Judiciary Committee Democrats didn't get high marks in the media for their questioning of Alito, who was widely portrayed as having won the battle. Thus, the hearings won't provide any springboard for a filibuster.

    A number of Democrats are already on record as saying a filibuster isn't appropriate even though they intend to vote against confirmation. There might be 41 votes against confirmation, but it seems there would only be about 32-35 against cloture.

    Democrats would take a pretty big hit for filibustering a nominee who received a unanimous Well Qualified rating from the ABA -not only in the court of public opinion but also in many sections of the legal community, including the nonpolitical sectors.

    Finally, a filibuster would have the effect of focusing public attention on an issue in which Bush's position appears fairly popular, while diverting attention from those issues which caused Bush's slide in popularity. That doesn't seem like the smart move, IMHO.

  •  Fear of filibuster? Two words: (none)
    Terri
    Schiavo

    Want a Cliff's Notes version for the public to understand?  Terri Schiavo was about a battle over the judiciary.  The scary nutjobs who brought you the Terri Schiavo nightmare--those are the guys who want to force Alito on us.

  •  see judy's diary too (none)
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    lots of great info

    weather forecast

    The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Paine

    by Cedwyn on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 06:58:35 PM PST

  •  The Pontificator is correct. (none)
    I completely agree that a filibuster will help Dems win in 2006, but they will not do it.

    In a way I also feel that this shows how ineffective we here at Kos, and on other progressive blogs are. After all this time, after all the bandwidth, after all the posts by politicians, we still have very little influence over them. Congressional Democrats are still more afraid of what the Republicans will do to them, than they are of us (their base).

  •  Fillibuster is a MUST (none)
    Preventing Alito's confirmation is make or break for the right wing takeover of the SCOTUS.

    I can't understand why the Dems will not even fight if they have the votes. It just does not make any sense. If they can't fight this, how can they expect to do well in the mid-terms?

    Now Rove has stated that the 2006 mid-term campaign theme is, guess what? GWOT.

    So another season of Rove's "if you're not with us, you are for the terrorists". How predictable!

    This coming from a team yet to get Osama "dead or alive" Bin Forgotten who continues to roam free and occassionally send us videos and audios to help buddy Karl.

    The team that created terrorists where none existed in the "Mission Accomplished" Iraq that continues on its way to civil war and victory to the theocracy in Iran.

    The team where emergency response to disaster in the US is "heckuva job" Katrina.

    If the Dems can't see this coming and go on the offensive now by not changing the subject but instead focusing on GWOT and the FUBAR situation that Karl's team has created; and, if the American electorate can be bamboozled for a fourth time by swiftboats and smear and can't see the incompetence and culture of corruption of the Rethugs; then even God can't help the Republic.

    We need to resolve to only support true fighters who will take to the Rethugs in outright combat during the primary contests. No more support to the weather vanes!!!

  •  Make some conditions (none)
    How about having a filibuster and saying no appointment untill we see everything about who has had thier phones and emails tapped and on what information. I know they'll say its all classified, but there are examiners that would be qualified.
    Also, demand answers to basic rights questions that are at odds with Alito's past writings. What will be his connection with Bush in the event of an impeachment?
    I don't think its time to bring the government to a halt for an extended period but a little unity might shake them up an excite the base at the same time.

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