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Obama and the filibuster, a love/hate relationship

October 28, 2010

Recently, the president has been commenting on his distaste for the filibuster rules in the Senate, going so far as to claim it is unconstitutional.  As a man rooted in his convictions, we must assume he has always been against the filibuster, not just when he has been president.  Lets see what his record reveals. [from the Foundry]

Senator Barack Obama voted on January 30, 2006, to filibuster the nomination of Sam Alito to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Senator Obama filibustered the nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations … twice.  The President’s words do not match up with his actions as a Senator.

Okay, so he used it when he was a Senator, does that mean he wasn’t just doing the politically expedient thing?  How about his view of its unconstitutionality? [from]

If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, then millions of Americans who ask us to be their voice if fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will get be poisoned to the point that we will not be able to agree on anything and doesn’t serve anybody’s best interest and it certainly isn’t what the Patriots who founded this democracy had in mind.

Wow, Obama talking about the founding fathers.  Okay, so he is a hypocrite, not like that’s news, but how far does his hypocrisy go?

In a recent Q & A with bloggers, he was asked about the filibuster rules in the senate and this was his reply: [from Americablog]

And the filibuster is not part of the Constitution. The filibuster, if you look at the history of it, may have arisen purely by accident because somebody didn’t properly apply Robert’s Rules of Procedure and forgot to get a provision in there about what was required to close debate. And folks figured out very early, this could be a powerful tool. It was used as a limited tool throughout its history.

The filibuster is not part of Constitution, but 53 czars is?  Obamacare is?  Etc. etc.  I purposely left the last sentence off this paragraph because it deserves special consideration:

Sadly, the primary way it was used was to prevent African Americans from achieving civil rights.

He is absolutely correct.  The democrats used the filibuster on numerous occasions to prevent civil rights legislation from moving through the Senate during the 50’s and 60’s, most famously by Senator Robert Byrd (KKK from West Virginia).  He personally filibustered the Civil Rights act of 1964 (that’s the big one) for 14 hours straight.  Remember, this was a Q & A, not a teleprompter delivered speech, so the fact Obama mentioned the civil rights filibuster shows it is important to him.

How important?  I will use Obama’s own words again, this time when he eulogized Kleagle Byrd during his funeral: [from]

“And as I reflect on the full sweep of his 92 years, it seems to me that his life bent towards justice,” Obama said. “Like the Constitution he tucked in his pocket, like our nation itself, Robert Byrd possessed that quintessential American quality, and that is a capacity to change, a capacity to learn, a capacity to listen, a capacity to be made more perfect.”

Apparently Obama possesses that quintessential American quality as well.  Changing his mind on the filibuster for the time being.  I wonder how he would feel about the filibuster if the Senate changes hands on November 2nd?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. LD Jackson permalink
    October 28, 2010 5:30 pm

    Well, there’s not much to say about this when the President’s own words condemn him. It’s amazing to see how much his opinion has changed on different issues. Like you, I wonder how is opinion on the filibuster will change after November 2nd.

    • October 28, 2010 6:43 pm

      Yeah, he is quickly becoming the most two-faced president in my lifetime, which is pretty impressive given he is going up against Clinton.

  2. JustFacts permalink
    October 29, 2010 12:16 am

    Yes, isn’t it amazing that when the Democrats filibustered the Bush judicial nominations, they were applauded by the media as protecting the minority viewpoint. But, when the Republicans have filibustered Democrat judicial nominations, they are deemed to be obstructionists.

    I detest the use of the “so-called” filibuster as it has evolved. It should be envoked as it was originally intended (i.e., “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”). Now, it is just a defacto requirement to have a 60 vote majority to get anything passed. They should be required to “hold the floor” as was the original intent.

    • October 29, 2010 7:58 am

      I couldn’t agree more. The point behind the “having to hold the floor” wasn’t just symbolic, there was, I assume, the actual chance that someone’s viewpoints could actually be changed by the one-sided debate. Not to mention, it was a way someone could get an issue they felt was truly important in the national headlines before the creation of the 24 hour news sources like MSNBC and FOX. Now, its just a procedural issue. We don’t actually get to see how the senators seriously opposed to an issue are willing to stand up for those issues. If we could, then in the case of the republicans, the people could see that the “party of no” actually might have something behind their actions besides obstructionism, and vice-versa when the democrats had to use it.

  3. Steve permalink
    October 29, 2010 3:10 am

    THANKS FOR POSTING THIS! Keep up the great work!!

    Common Cents

    • October 29, 2010 7:59 am

      Thanks for the comments and the kind words. =)

  4. October 29, 2010 7:02 am

    The two faces of Barack Obama, he just can’t keep his storries straight, can he? He is trying to play both sides of the fence depending on whom he is talking to at the time. That may have worked before the internet age, but it will no longer work. (I guess Obama has Al Gore to thank for that. :))

    • October 29, 2010 8:01 am

      I have thought about that, the internet thingy, before. You would think by now, politicians would know every single word they mutter in public is going to be parsed like you never imagined, so is he just stupid or is he so arrogant he just doesn’t care?


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