RUSH: All right, now to the judicial filibusters. First off a Reuters story: “US Senate Republicans have the votes to ban any more Democratic procedural roadblocks…” It’s not a “procedural roadblock;” it’s a filibuster! Just say “filibuster.” This is the same outfit, Reuters, that will not allow the word “terrorist” to be used to describe terrorists. It’s sort of like the old days when Ted Turner wouldn’t allow the word “foreigner” to be applied to foreigners when they were discussed on CNN. Anyway, Senate Republicans, it is said here according to a top Republican, have the votes to ban any more Democratic filibusters. “A spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada promptly questioned the claim, while another Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, floated a possible compromise to avert a fight that could bring the Senate to a near halt.” Now, the story goes on to describe what Biden’s compromise is. Now, this story ran yesterday and it’s interesting because in the Washington Post yesterday there was a piece by David Broder. Now, his piece ran on Sunday morning. This story appeared Sunday in the morning. I don’t know; it’s a strange coincidence. Biden proposes a compromise that sounds so much like Broder’s compromise, I’m scratching my head and wondering about it. Broder’s piece on Sunday in the Washington Post: “A Judicious Compromise — Democrats Should Take the First Step to End the Filibuster Fracas.”
Well, well, well, well, now isn’t this interesting! You’ve got David Broder, the dean of Washington print pundits, and Joe Biden on television on Sunday talking about a compromise over the filibuster business and it comes the same day of this televised — what would you call this? I’m having a mental block. What was this? What would you call it, the thing that Frist appeared at? Okay, the rally that they broadcast to churches. A rally about people of faith and how the Democrats may be focusing on those not qualified because they are too religious, yeah. So here you have the day that rally takes place — and, by the way, it spread way beyond the churches that were to broadcast. It was on C-SPAN. It went everywhere, which means a lot more people saw it than just people going to church. On that day Broder comes out floating a compromise — I’ll get to the details of the compromise after the break — and Biden does the same thing. What’s going on here, folks? Plus that’s the day the Republicans say, “We’ve got the votes to stop this.” Now, in the compromise the Democrats are suggesting the nuclear option not be triggered and they will give up seven of the ten judges for a floor vote. I think that’s Biden or Broder, they’re very close. But all of a sudden here, all of a sudden after all of this talk it seems like the Democrats want to come up with a compromise that would basically see to it that the constitutional option or the nuclear option is not triggered. Does that tell you anything, Mr. Snerdley? What does it tell you? Tells me that they may be thinking they’re going to lose this. Tells me that maybe they’re thinking the Republicans do have the votes.
RUSH: All right, so compromising on the judicial filibuster appears to be on the table. It’s on the table from Biden and on the table from David Broder. Now, here’s the Biden compromise. The Democrats blocked ten of Bush’s judicial nominees during his first term. Bush renominated seven of those nominees after winning re-election in November. Biden was on This Week [Needs David Brinkley], and he said, “I think we should compromise and say to the Republicans that we’re willing to say of the seven judges that we’ll let a number of them go through, the two most extreme not go through and we’ll put off this vote’ to end the filibuster.” So Biden says of the seven judges we’re talking about, five we’ll let them go through for a vote, but the other two — I mean, the really extreme ones –we’re not going to do that, that’s a compromise. That’s not going to happen. Here’s Broder’s compromise in the Washington Post. Here’s what he writes. He said, “Here is what should happen: The Democratic Senate leadership should agree voluntarily to set aside the continued threat of filibustering the seven Bush appointees to the federal appeals courts who were blocked in the last Congress and whose names have been resubmitted. In return, they should get a renewed promise from the president that he will not bypass the Senate by offering any more recess appointments to the bench and a pledge from Republican Senate leaders to consider each such nominee individually, carefully and with a guarantee of extensive debate in coming months. Why should the Democrats be the first to step back from the abyss of the ‘nuclear option?'”
Now, get this: “The principled answer is that elections matter. Voters placed Republicans in control of the White House and the Senate, and while the opposition still has a constitutional role to play, at the end of the day that function has to be more than talking important matters to death. But there are also practical reasons for the Democrats to take this path. Their tactical position is weak. The Judiciary Committee cleared two more nominees last week. The Republicans — with Vice President Cheney in the chair — could well muster the 51 votes needed to change Senate rules and abolish judicial filibusters. If that were to happen, Democrats have said they would use every rule and procedure available to them to bring the work of the Senate to a halt. Building such a roadblock to consideration of such important legislation as energy, Social Security, welfare reform and the routine financing of government would bring down deserved public condemnation, and the mighty megaphone of the White House would ensure that Democrats took the brunt of the blame… In addition, if the judicial filibuster were ended by a vote of the Senate, it would vanish entirely. By yielding the right to filibuster these specific court appointees, the Democrats could deny the Republicans any immediate pretext for changing the rules — and preserve the possibility of a filibuster should Bush later submit someone they find seriously objectionable for a vacancy on the Supreme Court.”
So do you see what’s shaping up here? Let me translate this for you: The Democrats have figured out that if the Republicans win this vote, there will be no political price for them to pay. There’s no political price to pay by Republicans for winning the vote, but if the Republicans don’t act, there will be. There will be a huge political price to pay with their base. The Democrats understand that. The Democrats are probably thinking, “That means the Republicans will go ahead and have the vote,” and if you add all this up, the Democrats think they’re going to lose this filibuster vote. So now they’re rushing to put things on the table, “Let’s not even do this, let’s have a compromise.” The Democrats should give away but reserve the right to filibuster for really important nominations like the Supreme Court. Now, Broder wrote a piece last week saying (summarized), “I don’t understand what this is all about anyway because these seven to ten judges we’re talking about are no-names. They’re just appeals court judges.” Remember that? I read that piece to you last week. He couldn’t believe that such major fireworks were going off over seven or ten people that most Americans have never heard of and never will hear of. Now, as far as political price to pay, if the Democrats try to shut down the Senate, they will implode. There’s just no question, and so I think some people are realizing here that the Democrats may have trapped themselves, and this needs to be explained to our guys in the Senate on our side, because they may be too close to see it for what it really is. Because when you have two people, Biden in the Senate — and he’s on the judiciary committee talking compromise now — and on the same day that Broder comes out with his piece in the Washington Post, and basically pointing out the Democrats have nothing to gain here? How about Broder saying, “Hey, the Republicans won the election. They get to choose. I mean, that’s the principled answer, that the elections matter.” He goes on to say, “[T]here are also positive goals that Democrats and Republicans can achieve by this kind of agreement. These appeals court judgeships — one step below the Supreme Court — are important, but today they are almost invisible. By securing agreement that the Senate would hold serious, sustained debates on every one of them, perhaps giving one week of each month to each judicial confirmation debate until the backlog is cleared, the Democrats could bring much more visibility and accountability to the confirmation process. Instead of sending a message that they do not trust their Republican colleagues’ judgment — and therefore feel justified in preventing a vote — the Democrats would be saying to their colleagues and the country: We trust you to take your ‘advise and consent’ duties seriously,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He concludes with this. “The outside groups on the right and left are pressuring senators for a showdown, telling them not to yield an inch. Only the senators themselves can defend their institution from the damage the “nuclear option” would cause.” What is the damage the nuclear option would cause? Given what we now have seen with Biden and with Broder, the damage the nuclear option would cause is simply one thing, the Democrats would lose. The Democrats would lose.
They would lose and their whole modus operandi for holding up these nominations would go down the tubes as well. We’re just talking about a simple Senate rules change. The Senate changes rules all the time. In fact, the filibustering of judges is not even a rules change. It’s just the Democrats invoking a new behavior that has not taken place in the Senate for 200 years — and so it’s a simple rules change. I mean, now all of a sudden Democrats are trying to downplay all this and say there’s a bigger thing to fight for down the road, Supreme Court nominees, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da. So I wanted to bring you up to speed on this, because I think that what this says is that there is genuine fear on the Democrat side they will lose this, but the bottom line is they have figured out, the Republicans have no political price in having the vote. The Republicans will pay no price whatsoever at having the vote. Now, if the Republicans don’t act — I’m talking about acting; forget the outcome here for just a second. I’m talking about individual senators and how they vote will have a price to pay but the Republicans themselves. If First goes ahead, if the leadership goes ahead with the vote, there’s no price to pay for doing that. Remember, the vote is said… Keep the context in mind. Just having the vote is said by the critics to be something the Senate cannot withstand. Just having the vote will destroy the Senate. Having the vote will blow it up. Having the vote is the “nuclear option.”
The result isn’t. The vote itself is, you understand? The vote itself just triggering it, that’s the nuclear option. The result is not, as far as what the Democrats are thinking. But that’s not true. If the Republican leadership authorizes the vote to bust the filibuster, there’s no political price to pay for that. There is a political price if they don’t act. If the Republican leadership does not act, does not have the vote, there is a political price to pay there. On the Democratic side of the aisle, the Democrats, on the other hand, have a lot to lose here in terms of playing a political price, if they follow through on what they’ve promised to do. If the Republicans act, the Democrats say they will shut down the Senate. If they shut down the Senate they have a huge political price to pay. Remember how Mr. Newt and the boys paid the price for the government shutdown in ’95. If they don’t shut down the Senate as promised, they’ve gotta political price to pay with the wackos and the George Soros groups and the MoveOn.orgs. We’re not even talking about the outcome of the vote here, folks. We’re just talking about the physical act of taking the vote of actually triggering the option. The outcome would lead to a whole different set of circumstances but in terms of a political price to pay, there is none for the Republicans voting, none, zero, nada, zilch.
RUSH: “Hey, Rush, why you talking about David Broder? I thought you didn’t read the Washington Post?” Folks, he was on the Sunday show. They were discussing his proposal on Fox, and they were discussing his proposal as though he’s a senator, or at least an advisor to the Senate, and so that’s why I felt the need to bring it up. This stuff does not happen by accident. The thing that you have to understand about inside the Beltway, that Broder piece, it may appear to be independent, but believe me, there’s… “Are you saying, Rush, there’s collaboration?” No, I’m not saying that there’s collaboration, because I don’t know that there is, but the coincidence is just a bit much. Biden is talking about a compromise the same morning as Broder’s column comes out, and everybody in Washington on the Sunday shows end up talking about all this, and it happens on the same day that the rally is going on out there in churches across America. At that rally, Bill First — and this was yesterday, said — and this is true, and this goes back now to the fact that there’s no political price for the Republicans to pay in conducting the vote. First said it’s not radical to ask senators to vote on judicial nominees. And that’s what’s not happening. The filibuster is preventing any of these nominees from even getting a vote. It’s not that they need 60; it’s that they don’t get any. There isn’t a vote being taken. Everybody says, “Well, they need 60 votes to confirm.” Well, that’s technically true, but the truth is you need 60 votes to break the filibuster, and then you have the vote after that. That’s why it is said that it takes 60 votes.
That’s what the purpose of the filibuster is — and gaining cloture, that’s breaking a filibuster is necessary, or only happens when you get 60 votes. So the bottom line is these nominees aren’t even getting a vote, folks. They’re not even getting a vote and it’s being portrayed here by the media and the Democrats that the Republicans are behaving in a radical fashion on this nuclear option, constitutional option, which would result in votes, and First said, “It’s not radical to ask senators to vote on judicial nominees,” and his appearance yesterday, no question about it, hardened his effort to strip some of the power away from the Democrats in this whole mess. Now, there’s an interesting chart that I got last night. The Economist: It’s actually a graph that I got from a website called ProfessorBainbridge.com but the original source is The Economist and it presents a graphic that shows the real problem. Now, you’ve all heard that the president has gotten all of his appeals court nominees and all of his Circuit Court confirmations, got as many as Clinton has had and all of this, and that isn’t true. What this chart represents here, Circuit Court confirmations as a percentage of nominations in the first and second Congress of their terms: Harry Truman got over 90% of his Circuit Court confirmations. Dwight Eisenhower, almost 90. Lyndon Johnson, about 97%, Richard Nixon, 92%, Gerald Ford 79%, Jimmy Carter about 92%, Ronald Reagan about 78%, George Bush 76%, Bill Clinton got 71%, so far George Bush has got 50% — 50% of his Circuit Court nominees have been confirmed, as a percentage of the nominations, not compared to previous administrations. Clinton got 50 confirmed; Bush has gotten 55. That doesn’t matter. As a percentage of those they nominated, Bush is lagging way behind. So this is another myth that’s out there, is that, “Hey, we’re only filibustering seven of these guys. Hey, we’re only filibustering ten of these guys. What are you talking about? Bush has got a clearance rate like nobody’s ever had!”
It isn’t true. Bush as a percentage of his nominations, barely over half of them, whereas LBJ was over almost at a hundred percent, 98%, everybody is over 70% except for George W. Bush. Clinton in fact is at 71%. Also: “Vice President Dick Cheney plunged the White House into the judicial confirmation battle yon Friday by saying he supported changing the Senate rules to stop the Democrats from blocking judicial nominees and would, if needed, provide the tie-breaking vote. In addition on Friday, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority Republican whip, asserted that Republicans would have the votes needed to execute that change. ‘There is no justification for allowing the blocking of nominees who are well-qualified and broadly supported,’ Cheney told a gathering of the Republican National Lawyers Association. ‘If the Senate majority decides to move forward and if the issue is presented to me in my elected office as president of the Senate and presiding officer, I will support bringing those nominations to the floor for an up-or-down vote,’ he said. ‘On the merits, this should not be a difficult call to make.’ Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, responded by accusing McConnell of bluffing and President Bush of lying. ‘Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules,’ Reid said in a statement, referring to a breakfast held between Bush and congressional leaders. ‘Now, it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power.'”
It’s not a raw abuse of power. It’s the exact opposite. The raw abuse of power is what a minority who lost the elections are perpetrating on the Senate. But what it all adds up to, I think, as I go through this and you put it in chronological order going backwards from Sunday through the weekend, it appears that the Democrats’ strategy has primarily been based on their belief that the Republicans would not have the guts to actually do this. I don’t think it’s really been a question of whether or not the Republicans have the votes. I mean, that was of concern, it was something I’m sure they’d be curious about, but in terms of where the Democrats actually were, I think they thought they had succeeded in bullying the Republicans into not acting and to not having this vote on the Senate rule. And now it appears that the Democrats realize the Republicans have the gumption to do it, and that’s changing their whole tactic now, that’s changing all of their strategery. Now they’re offering compromises and — yeah, I know, that’s right. Cheney, by the way, technically as a presiding officer of the Senate by constitutional mandate he’s acting within the Constitution, speaking on his own as the presiding officer of the Senate. Bush didn’t necessarily, Bush hasn’t gotten involved. Cheney did; Bush hasn’t. But whatever, it’s got Dingy Harry spinning. His responses here have nothing to do with the substance of the issue. He’s saying that McConnell’s bluffing and the president’s lying, but that doesn’t address the substance of the issue. So it does appear that there has been some kind of a change.
I don’t want to get too presumptuous about this, but this stuff is like a roller coaster, it changes many times in a day, much less many times in a week. But this is the first — how should I phrase this? This is the first hole in the dike, if you will, the Democrat dike that I have seen. They’ve sprung a leak out there. Something’s gone wrong. Now they’re talking compromise. They want to do everything to prevent this option from being triggered. That tells me they think they’re going to lose it. It tells me they want to hold onto it for use during a really important thing, like Supreme Court nominations, and it also tells me that they have miscalculated. And who could blame them, by the way, for thinking the Republicans would cave? Who could blame them? I mean, that’s been the standard operating procedure? Republicans have caved. So I think they always thought that the Republicans would not do this, didn’t have the guts to do it, and now it appears the Republicans not only have the guts to do it but also have the votes, which is causing some scrambling there inside the cloakrooms of the Democratic Party, at least over the weekend.
RUSH: By the way, the Democrats are just beside themselves. They’re just having conniption fits. It’s another hole in their dike, ladies and gentlemen, that First dared appear in church, that First dared to bring a political issue to church. Of course, this does not explain the Democrats’ willingness to go preach themselves in churches. Bill Clinton preached in church all the time. John Kerry preached in church — and, of course, the, uh, Reverend Jackson and Al Sharpton, and they raise money in churches. So they’re being hypocritical on this. We’ll have audio sound bites to illustrate this as the program unfolds today. I have a little quote here for you — and there’s no prize involved; I just want to see how many of you can guess the name of the person who said this: “I have stated over and over again on this floor…” This is a senator, by the way. “I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on any judge, that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it’s somebody I opposed or supported, that I felt the Senate should do its duty. If we don’t like somebody the president nominates, vote him or her down.”
All right, who was it that said this? Mr. Snerdley, you want to take a stab in the dark on this? No, it was not Robert Byrd. It was not Dingy Harry. It was US Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Depends from Vermont. This is from the Congressional Record, June 18th, 1998. The truth is that until now senators on both sides of the aisle have condemned the use of filibusters against judicial nominations, and until now, majority of senators was always sufficient to confirm a judge. But as the Senate Republicans attempt to restore the Senate tradition of a majority vote threshold for judicial nominees after four years of obstruction against Bush’s nominees, a partisan minority of the Senate is attempting to demagogue the effort, and they’re led, one of their leaders is Patrick Leahy, who in 1998 said that he would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it’s somebody he opposed or supported. How quickly they change! Here’s Brian in Fort Walton Beach. Welcome, sir, nice to have you at program.
CALLER: Mega dittos, Rush. I got a question for you in regards to the Democrats. We clearly have them on the ropes, and my question is are the Republicans going to deliver the knockout blow this time or are they going to get weak-kneed and compromise yet again?
RUSH: It depends on what the real compromise is. There isn’t an official compromise. Keep that in mind. We’ve got Joe Biden with his proposed compromise, and we got David Broder, the dean of pundits inside the Beltway who has proposed his own compromise, and they’re different.
RUSH: There’s not a official compromise. It depends what it is. At this stage I don’t know what they’re going to do. I would hope not, because there’s no political price for them to pay having the vote.
CALLER: I think the base, for once, would just like to see them pull the trigger, just because.
RUSH: Well, yeah. Look, don’t get caught up in revenge. I mean, revenge feels good for a while but sometimes revenge can take you down the wrong road.
CALLER: That’s true.
RUSH: You don’t want to do something like this just for revenge. You don’t want to do something like this just to go, “I’ll show you! Watch us.” There has to be an endgame here that makes sense in doing it, and these guys they’re going to sit there, and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but they’re going to calculate the political price. That’s who they are. I mean, everybody in politics calculates. You’ve heard of political capital. “How much we got to spend? What’s the price? How much political capital we got?” That’s why I’m saying there’s no real political price in having the vote. Is there a political price to pay in doing a compromise? If the compromise involves Republicans agreeing that two of these nominees are too extreme, say the Biden compromise, then that’s no good. It will do the Republicans no good. They’ll all be looked at as a bunch of George Voinoviches, Chuck Hagels and Lincoln Chafees. If the Senate leadership stands up and says, “Okay, we’ll take the five that you approve and we’ll have votes on them but we’ll knock out these two that you think are too extreme.” There’s a huge political price to pay for them doing that. Now, the Broder compromise again is something different. The Broder compromise is that the Senate Democrats should agree voluntarily to set aside their threat of filibustering these seven appointees and in return they should get a promise from the president that he will not use any more recess appointments to the bench, and a promise from Republican Senate leaders to consider each nominee individually, carefully, and with a guarantee of extensive debate in coming months.
Right now there’s no debate on these judges — I have to tell you, folks, because that’s what the filibuster means. You keep hearing Robert Byrd say, “The time-honored traditions of debate.” There is no debate going on with these people. That’s what the filibuster is preventing, is debate. So Broder’s compromise, instead of bringing them up here as a package, instead of bringing two or three or more at a time out of committee and voting on them in the same session. Let’s bring one at a time. Let’s debate them for as long as we want to and then have our up-and-down vote. Now, that gives the Democrats time to pull a John Bolton on every one of these nominees because what would happen then is that the press and the Democrats would go into gear and start digging up all of a sudden stuff about each individual nominee and if each individual nominee had a week or two weeks of debate that’s plenty of time for the Democrat smear machine to get going — and, remember, the nature of the evidence on all this would not matter, just the seriousness of the charge. This compromise, while it sounds good, “Hey, we’ll pull out our filibuster threat if you allow extensive debate on each of these nominees,” I still think that the way to go here is trigger the option. Just use the option. Just change the Senate rules. Senate rules get changed all the time. This one’s not sacrosanct. What was sacrosanct, simple majority votes on nominees on the floor, up or down, that’s what hasn’t happened. That’s where the Senate tradition has been turned upside down. Here’s Vince in Howard Beach in New York. Welcome, sir, great to have you with us.
CALLER: Dittos, great one.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: For once I disagree with you which is very rare. There is a price to pay.
RUSH: Be very careful here. Very, very, very careful. Many have tried this.
CALLER: Okay. It’s my own opinion, of course, but if the Republicans take the vote, the price they would pay and they would only pay is if they lost the vote, and I don’t think Senator Bill First believes that he necessarily has this lock, stock and barrel — and the reason I say this is because everyone was watching when Voinovich did what he did, and we all know about the great maverick wing of the Republican Party that sits in the Senate. Whose to say Warner who expressed doubts about this two weeks ago, wouldn’t have a sudden change of heart, and who’s to say Voinovich, you know, isn’t horse trading to get something for Ohio in all this? Quite frankly, I want the Republicans to pull the trigger on this. I want them to have the vote. But if they lose the vote, that will be the political price that they pay.
RUSH: Well, I didn’t say there wouldn’t be a political price in the outcome. But the political price, if they don’t vote, they’ll all pay it. The party will pay it. “They’re the same old guys. They haven’t changed. They’re still cowards. They still have linguini for spines.” If they do the vote, if they go ahead and challenge these guys and take the Democrats on, they’ll get points for that. There will be no price to pay for that. The senators that shaft him, if there are enough Republicans that shaft their own party, they will pay a price. No question about it. But the party as a whole, the Senate leadership, would not.