Bench Memos

President Obama’s Extraordinary Amnesia

In a statement today on the defeat of the cloture petition on Caitlin Halligan’s D.C. Circuit nomination, President Obama asserts, “Today’s vote dramatically lowers the bar used to justify a filibuster, which had required ‘extraordinary circumstances.’” His assertion is false or meaningless.

If the “extraordinary circumstances” standard has any determinate meaning (and I don’t believe that it does), then it’s telling that all the Democratic members of the Gang of 14 determined that the nominations of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and of Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor, and Priscilla Owen to federal appellate seats did not present “extraordinary circumstances” that would justify a filibuster. But Obama himself, as a senator, voted against cloture on all these nominations. And virtually all Senate Democrats voted against cloture on these (and other) nominations in 2003 and 2004. (Obama joined the Senate in 2005, so he did not vote on the spate of cloture petitions in 2003 and 2004, though it’s rather clear from his pattern of votes how he would have voted.)  So either they weren’t applying an “extraordinary circumstances” standard then, or the standard is meaninglessly subjective (indeed, so meaninglessly subjective that the Democrats who were the members of the Gang of 14 could have found it to have been satisfied for a nominee in 2003 but not satisfied for the same nominee in 2005).  

In 2007, Obama was among the 35 Democrats who voted against cloture on the nomination of Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit. Obama even led the shameful and mendacious campaign against Southwick. The idea that “extraordinary circumstances” justified the Democrats’ filibuster effort against Southwick is absurd. Democrats who voted for cloture on the Southwick nomination included Akaka, Byrd, Carper, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Lieberman, Lincoln, Nelson (of Nebraska), Pryor, and Salazar.

President Obama is reaping what he helped sow. He has no cause to complain.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More