Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 18, 2007
WAR: New Day, Same Spin

Today's NY Times:

Senate Rejects Renewed Effort to Debate Iraq

The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort to force debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, but Republican defections emboldened Democrats to promise new attempts to influence the administration’s war policy.

The 56-to-34 vote in a rare Saturday session was the second time Republicans were able to deny opponents of the troop increase a debate on a resolution challenging Mr. Bush, and it came just a day after the House formally opposed his plan to increase the military presence in Iraq.

But the outcome, four votes short of the 60 needed to break a procedural stalemate, suggested that Democrats were slowly drawing support from Senate Republicans for what was shaping up to be a drawn-out fight between the Democrat-controlled Congress and Mr. Bush over his execution of the war.

Of course, this is Times-speak for the fact that Senate Democrats were unable to break a filibuster and force cloture and thus get a floor vote on their resolution. As you will recall, when Democrats use the filibuster to prevent Republicans from getting cloture, it's called extending debate. After all, the vote doesn't stop anybody from debating, it just prevents a vote.

I can't say I'm surprised that the Democrats use different terms to describe the same procedure depending on who is doing the filibustering. But would it be so difficult for the Times to at least pretend to even-handedness on this sort of procedural point?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:01 AM | War 2007-14 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

I noted the same tendency with the WaPo - contrasted their coverage of the Bolton filibuster

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at February 18, 2007 9:19 PM

Does not this all miss the point? Typical of conservatives to harp on linguistics while the world burns. The Republicans don't want debate on the most important issue facing this country, fearful that any dissent will be disrespectful to our daddy who is protecting and saving us, George W. Sad is the Democrats' refusal to make this vote binding. Sadder is the Republicans who cannot take a stand and do not want this kind of debate.

Posted by: Steve at February 19, 2007 9:54 AM

Debating is un-American, Steve. Only Europeans waste time talking about stuff.

Steve, why do you hate America?

Posted by: Mike at February 19, 2007 11:59 AM

Of course there is no hypocrisy on GOP Inc.'s side in using a fillibuster when all the Dem's want is an "up or down" vote. It must be lovely in y'all's world.

Posted by: jim at February 19, 2007 1:01 PM

Steve - The debate can keep going till the cows come home. All the GOP stopped was a floor vote, and on a non-binding resolution at that. And note that the Republicans' effort to debate and vote on an alternative in the House was stifled by Pelosi (not that this should surprise anyone given House rules, but it's yet another example that the Dems were not serious about changing the way the House operates, and that charges that the Republicans are the ones canning debate are a load of bull).

Jim - Go through the archives, I've never argued that a filibuster was per se improper for blocking legislation. I only oppose it in indefinitely obstructing presidential nominations. Not all conservatives take that view (some, like George Will, support the filibuster generally, others oppose it across the board), but most do.

Posted by: The Crank at February 19, 2007 1:09 PM

It's not really a filibuster now, is it - it's just the threat of one - I haven't had CSPAN on, so I doubt that Harry Reid is actually requesting the Republicans to keep speaking. I think he should - the images of a Senator reading a cookbook instead of allowing a vote on this resolution could be devastating.

While I can't remember, I think the Democrats used both the threat and the continued speaking. Kerry, in particular. I lose all track of time when I hear him though.

Could it be that the Times is right - that it is a procedural stalemate, since there is only a procedural filibuster going on?

While the "effort to force debate" is completely wrong, ,can you show me where a NY Times article said that the democrats were "extending debate" during the judges fiasco? I believe "extending debate" is only Senate terminology, politely used instead of "trying to show off and influence voters".

Posted by: dave at February 19, 2007 1:46 PM

It's simple enough-filibusters are wonderful when Dems use them, the scourge of democracy when Republicans use them.

Posted by: John Salmon at February 19, 2007 2:36 PM

Funny, I thought it was the other way around.

Posted by: jim at February 19, 2007 3:03 PM

Jim-Well, it IS the other way around.

Posted by: John Salmon at February 20, 2007 6:45 PM

dave - Well, for one example, this CNN headline put the onus on the GOP for trying to get a vote: "GOP sets up showdown over Alito."

This USA Today headline is even worse: "Senate GOP to try to cut off debate, force vote on Alito"

The Times? try this one which says that "The Senate voted, 72 to 25, to shut off debate and hold a vote on confirmation Tuesday morning. Sixty votes are needed to shut off debate, and 41 to keep one going, so opponents of the nominee fell far short this afternoon."

To say nothing of the endless media references to the attempt to get a vote being "the nuclear option."

Posted by: The Crank at February 20, 2007 7:43 PM

Um, that would be "nukeular".

Posted by: jim at February 20, 2007 10:56 PM
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