If this weren't a family blog, I could have headlined this one "Gang (of 14) Banged! Lindsay Graham F*cks 13 Senators in One Day!"
Word is that CNN is reporting the "Gang of 14" will meet today, presumably to declare the possibility of a filibuster of the Alito nomination dead. That the Gang is getting together to say so is, we must assume, a declaration that the now-infamous "extraordinary circumstances" bar has not been cleared.
But as I've suggested before, perhaps the Senators are looking in the wrong place for their circumstances. What if the guy on the other side of the table is what's extraordinary about the nomination?
Well, what chance did they have to do that, when signatory Lindsay Graham was coaching Alito on how to avoid or obfuscate such circumstances?
According to the January 9th Wall Street Journal -- a pay service for which I cannot provide a link, but which our friend AdamB provides the text -- Graham made it his business to make sure his 13 Gang colleagues never got a chance to exercise the discretion he promised them they'd have:
In preparation for his confirmation hearings, which start Monday before
the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alito has been drilling regularly since
Thanksgiving in questioning sessions lasting around 30 minutes at the
Justice Department, with two department lawyers doing the questioning.
On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the "gang of
14" who sits on Judiciary, joined a so-called moot court session at the
Well, how do you like that? A Senator who sits on the Committee that's supposed to be the front line of "advice and consent" was coaching the nominee. A highly questionable practice, don't you think? "Extraordinary," really, when you think about it.
And what of the mutual trust the Gang of 14 pledged in one another? Do the other 13 feel Graham has honored that trust, or betrayed it?
Let's be honest. Lindsay Graham coached Alito in how to avoid giving the appearance of "extraordinary circumstances," and in so doing created "extraordinary circumstances" of his own. Graham is in breach of the terms of the Gang's agreement, having interfered with his colleagues' ability to make the individual determinations on "extraordinary circumstances" he promised them.
The deal is now, finally, completely hollowed-out. Even as it extracted a promise on "extraordinary circumstances" that many argued rendered the filibuster dead -- given that it could only be used in a situation in which a nominee would likely lack majority support in the first place, it offered nothing in return by way of passing on the legitimacy of the nuclear option. Democrats surrendered the right to use a filibuster for its intended purpose, but Republicans were permitted to keep their nuclear option as a viable alternative -- just not during the 109th Congress.
Now, we at last learn that there was never any intention to allow an honest, straightforward determination on "extraordinary circumstances," either. At least not in Graham's mind. And although this comes as no surprise to someone who told you from the beginning that Graham was not serious in his commitment to the agreement, it's still a bit shocking that his colleagues appear unperturbed by his questionable, if not outright unethical, interference -- both in their own decision-making process, and with the Constitutional duty to offer advice and consent.