The Corner

The Real Fake Filibuster

Is it a filibuster or not? Apparently this depends on who is speaking. In 2010, socialist senator Bernie Sanders performed precisely the same trick that Ted Cruz has over the past twenty-plus hours: He asked for permission to make a long speech that doesn’t actually “delay or block” a piece of legislation. Back then, though, Sanders was a filibustering hero. Buzzfeed reported rather breathlessly that:

Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is being a badass today and doing a real filibuster of the Obama tax cuts to counteract the bullshit fake filibusters everyone else has been trying to pull recently.

Actually, “badass” Sanders was doing a fake filibuster. This, of course, is fine. But we should expect some consistency. That is to say that if Sanders’s filibuster was “real,” then so is Cruz’s; if it was a “bullshit fake” filibuster, then so is Cruz’s. Buzzfeed, however, has other ideas today:

This is a distinction that Talking Points Memo also saw fit to observe. In 2010, the site reported that Sanders was engaging in a ”a filibuster as filibusters were originally intended.” Ted Cruz, on the other hand . . .

In short, his “filibuster” is not actually a filibuster. It’s merely a speech to kill time.

Just like Sanders’s, then. Same, but different. On average, as Conn Carroll points out in the Washington Examiner, the headlines when Sanders spoke for 9 hours all contained the word “filibuster,” without mitigation:

The Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Filibuster: Senator Stalls Tax Cut Deal

CBS News: Bernie Sanders Holds Old-School Filibuster Against Obama-GOP Tax Cut Deal

The Los Angeles Times: Sen. Bernie Sanders ends filibusterNPR: Sen. Bernie Sanders ‘Filibusters’ Tax Cut Deal

Salon: Bernie Sanders’ epic tax cut filibuster rant

C-SPAN: Sen. Sanders Held a Tax Cut Filibuster

Talking Points Memo: Sanders Ends Daylong Filibuster Of Tax Cut Compromise

Cruz’s headlines, unsurprisingly have not. It doesn’t really matter what you call what Sanders did and Cruz is still doing — call it a “Teapot” if you wish. But some consistency would be nice.


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