A Tale of Two Krauthammers

Charles KrauthammerI’ve been pretty clear about my thinking regarding the filibuster over the years. And most recently, I even discussed the whole question of hypocrisy, arguing that one could reasonably have been in favor of keeping the filibuster in 2005 but be against keeping it now. It absolutely doesn’t work the other way around. Filibuster abuse is far worse now than then. If it was a good idea to get rid of it in 2005, it’s an even better idea now. End of story.

This leads up to that great icon of conservatism Charles Krauthammer. Jonathan Chait was nice enough to do a little Googling for us, Today in Hackery. On 13 May 2005, Krauthammer wrote, Nuclear? No, Restoration.

Two hundred years of tradition has been radically and unilaterally changed by the minority. Why? The reason is obvious. Democrats have not had a very good run recently in the popularly elected branches. Since choosing the wrong side of the culture wars of the 1960s, they have won only three of the past 10 presidential elections. A decade ago they lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years, and now have lost all the elected branches. They are in a panic that they will lose their one remaining ability to legislate—through the courts…

If Republicans accept this kind of deal [the Gang of 14], they are fools. They have a perfectly constitutional, perfectly reasonable case for demanding an up-or-down vote on judicial nominees, and they should not be throwing it away for a mess of potage and fuzzy promises…

The Democrats have unilaterally shattered one of the longest-running traditions in parliamentary history worldwide. They are not to be rewarded with a deal. They must either stop or be stopped by a simple change of Senate procedure that would do nothing more than take a 200-year-old unwritten rule and make it written.

What the Democrats have done is radical. What [Republican Majority Leader] Frist is proposing is a restoration.

But it is eight years later. The Republicans now filibuster virtually everything. They commonly filibuster appointees who go on to be unanimously approved. The situation is far, far, far worse than it was in 2005. If what the Democrats were doing then was “radical,” what the Republicans are doing now is “super doubleplus radical.” So he’s all for what Harry Reid did, right? Well, I’ll give you a clue; his Thanksgiving column was titled, An Outbreak of Lawlessness. Ready or not, Dr. Charles Krauthammer:

For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of political norms, legislative and constitutional…

A Senate with no rules. A president without boundaries. One day, when a few bottled-up judicial nominees and a malfunctioning health-care Web site are barely a memory, we will still be dealing with the toxic residue of this outbreak of authoritative lawlessness.

Yeah, whatever. In his defense, he’s not being completely hypocritical. Now he’s saying that the problem isn’t getting rid of the filibuster. It is how the filibuster was gotten rid of. The problem is that how the filibuster was removed now is exactly the way it was going to be removed in 2005: the Constitutional option. This is a typical rhetorical device that provides him with wiggle room if anyone confronts him on Fox News.

I know Charles Krauthammer really well. He’s the kind of conservative pundit that my father likes, so I try to stay up on what he’s talking about. I know what appeals to my father. He’s soft spoken. He uses “the other side says” as a rhetorical device that makes him sound like he’s looking at both sides of the argument. But he is just a conservative hack. The right wing is full of them. This is the same game played by George Will, David Brooks, and Avik Roy. It was perfected by William Buckley. But it is all the same. The only time one of these guys goes off script is when one of them finds out one of his kids is gay.

Charles Krauthammer: king of the hacks.

Afterword

Just in case anyone is worried, Charles Krauthammer’s physical problems (he was paralyzed in a swimming accident when he was 20) do not seem to have affected his ability to procreate. He has a son from his marriage four years after the accident. I’m very impressed with how Krauthammer has managed to live his life with his disabilities. It’s just too bad they haven’t made him any less of a right wing hack.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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