Monday, May 09, 2005
On this day:

"What Liberal Media?" -- Eric Alterman

Hugh Hewitt fact checks for Terry "What's Google?" Neal's lazy ass at the Washington (Com)Post.
Yesterday the Washington Post's Terry Neal wrote about the looming showdown in the Senate in a column titled "Attitudes Toward Filibuster Are About Power, Not Partisanship." Neal's tale was straight from the Democrats' talking points, and began thus:
"Both sides of the debate on the judicial filibuster issue will insist they're fighting over facts. But in reality the fight is over what it always is in Washington -- power. There is no consistent Democratic or Republican position on the Senate filibuster. There is only rhetoric. The only consistency in the debate seems to be coming from voters, who appear to favor a balance of power in Washington, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll ."
How does he prove that everyone has been inconsistent? Well, there are plenty of pull quotes from Democrats demanding up-or-down votes for nominees from when the Dems were in the minority and Bill Clinton was president. But here's how Neal tries to impale Orrin Hatch on the same spit:
"Eleven years ago, when Republicans were still in the minority, Sen. Orin [sic]Hatch (R-Utah) said the filibuster tool should be used because 'the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.'"
[...] Shouldn't a Washington Post reporter at least google the quote he's been passed? Try doing that with the Hatch quote along with the name "Orin Hatch." The first entry is a People for the American Way site devoted to the filibuster, and there is Hatch's quote as Neal used it. The second entry is to a May 6, 2003 statement to the Judiciary Committee made by Senator Hatch which explains how he objects to the use of this snipped quote which, denied its context, is used to completely the opposite effect that Hatch intended when he first spoke it in 1994:
"I would also like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on an allegation in the written testimony of one of the witnesses we will hear from today, Marcia Greenberger. Ms. Greenberger’s testimony noted that I described the filibuster as 'one of the few tools that the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.' The citation for this quote is to the 1994 floor debate on the nomination of Lee Sarokin to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Her testimony erroneously suggests both that there was a filibuster of Judge Sarokin’s nomination, and that I supported it. Here is what I actually said, placed in its proper context: 'Mr. President, one of the games that is being played around here is that whenever the majority leader wants to move something along, he files cloture, whether or not anybody has decided to use extended debate. I have heard the majority leader—who is a person I have great regard and respect for—say how beset we are with filibusters in this body. Naturally, in the last week or so of a session, there is going to be the threat of some filibusters. It is one of the few tools that the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents. But this is not a filibuster. I find it unseemly to have filed cloture on a judgeship nomination—where I have made it very clear that I would work to get a time agreement—and make it look like somebody is trying to filibuster a Federal court judgeship. I think it is wrong, and I think it is wrong to suggest in the media that this is a filibuster situation, because it is not. I personally do not want to filibuster Federal judges. The President won the election. He ought to have the right to appoint the judges he wants to.' For the record, then, there was in fact no filibuster of Judge Sarokin’s nomination, and I specifically did not support a filibuster of that or any other federal judge’s nomination."
[...] Any serious student of Senate history knows a filibuster has never been used against any appeals court nominee and only once against a Supreme Court nominee, and in that instance to avoid embarrassing Abe Fortas, a sitting Supreme Court Justice about whom there were serious ethics questions, bipartisan opposition, and who lacked majority support.