In its lead editorial today, the Washington Post editorial board, after observing that the National Journal ranked Barack Obama the most liberal senator in 2007, struggles to persuade itself that Obama might be something other than “a standard liberal clad in the soothing language of inclusiveness”. The first piece of supposed evidence it offers for Obama’s possible centrism is that he “not only declined to filibuster Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.; he was initially inclined to vote for him, according to [a Post reporter].”
Pardon me for puncturing the Post’s audacious hope, but it’s grasping at straws. Especially in light of the fact that there has never been a partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee (see point 1 here), it’s peculiar that the Post would posit that not filibustering the nomination of one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees ever might be some evidence of moderation. In any event, no senator voted to filibuster the Roberts nomination, for the simple reason that there was no cloture vote on that nomination.
Whatever Obama’s supposed initial inclinations, the relevant facts are that he voted against Roberts’s nomination, that he voted to filibuster the Alito nomination, and that he voted against the Alito nomination. No senator was to Obama’s left, and in all these actions he went against the Post’s editorial recommendations. It’s passing strange, and particularly telling, that the Post would find in Obama’s approach to the Roberts nomination the strongest evidence of Obama’s possible centrism.