THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 5, 2017
The New York Times has an evolving view on the filibuster.
Those of us in the tradition-bound newspaper industry are frequently accused of being too resistant to change in the digital era. But such generalizations are often unfair. Just look at the editorial page of the New York Times, which is proving to be remarkably adaptable to changing circumstances. For example, our crosstown rivals have lately been discovering new virtues in the practice of blocking presidential nominees via the Senate’s filibuster procedure.
Pay close attention, because the differences between the Times’ current position and its previous one can be subtle. On Tuesday the Times published an editorial headlined, “The Supreme Court as Partisan Tool.” (Source)
The piece describes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s intention to change Senate rules to prevent the Democratic minority from blocking a vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
But back in 2013, when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules to prevent the Republican minority from blocking votes on appointees to lower courts as well as executive-branch nominees, the paper’s editorial board was sending a different message. “Democracy Returns to the Senate,” announced a Times headline. (Source)
The Times also noted in 2013 that filibusters could still be mounted against Supreme Court nominees, but said that “now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures,” the new precedent “will increase the pressure to end those filibusters, too.”
That prediction proved to be correct.
But oddly, this week the Times isn’t saying anything about democracy as it shows strange new respect for the recent customs of the Senate.
The paper says that “surely having some slight chance of being able to deploy” the filibuster “to stop a renegade justice is better than having no chance at all.”
And in the Times’s current telling of this debate over Senate procedure, Mr. McConnell and his Republican colleagues will not merely be endorsing a democratic principle or paring the Senate’s “most infuriating rule.”
They have, according to the Times, “threatened a new weapon,” which is “known as the nuclear option.”
Reasonable or not, Times editorial writers likely aren’t the only people in the media becoming suddenly enamored of undemocratic Senate traditions.
The watchdogs at the Media Research Center have compiled an amusing collection of 2013 comments from cable news talkers celebrating Mr. Reid’s decision to push the button and go nuclear, or procedural, or whatever.
This column will go out on a limb now and suggest that such pundits will not be cheering Mr. McConnell’s democratization of Senate rules later this week.
But the media once loved the filibuster! (Source)
So did the democrats, oh well, that was then and this is now.