Hypocrisy watch: Under Bush, Senator Grassley and his GOP colleagues demanded an “up or down vote”

A most excellent op-ed in the Des Moines Register by our friend, Ari Rabin-Havt, on the expected hypocrisy from the GOP over the upcoming nomination battle. Working for Harry Reid, Ari had a front row seat when Republican Senators were espousing the need for “up and down” votes for Bush’s judicial nominees. Back then, they were vehemently opposed to any delays — and GOP leaders were going to invoke the “nuclear option” to preclude any filibusters. Let’s see what they do now:

Four years ago this month, as a staffer for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, I sat at the back of the Senate Chamber and listened to Republicans denounce efforts to filibuster President Bush’s judicial appointments. One after another, they sermonized about the body’s constitutional, even moral, obligation to give each nominee an “up or down vote.”

At the time, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said, “It’s time to make sure all judges receive a fair vote on the Senate floor.”

Now four years later, President Barack Obama has announced his first nomination to the Supreme Court. No one doubts Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications. In fact, she was first appointed to the federal courts by President George H.W. Bush in 1991.

However, many conservatives, in a desperate attempt to reclaim relevance, are already calling on Senate Republicans to filibuster Obama’s highly qualified pick.

Not only would this be one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy in the 220-year history of the Senate, it would be an admission by Republicans that their actions four years ago were nothing more than a political stunt.

If Grassley supports a filibuster on Sotomayor’s nomination, he will make it undeniably clear that he is happy to use the Constitution as a political prop. We will be made acutely aware that he sees our founding documents as trivial things, to be revered when they are useful and cast aside when the political winds change direction. Such cynicism is far more deplorable than plain hypocrisy.

My guess is that Grassley and his GOP colleagues demonstrate the deplorable cynicism. They have to cater to their hard-core wingnut constituents.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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