Lamar Alexander: Confused or wily?
I noted this morning that Lamar Alexander's argument against filibuster reform is deeply twisted, but it's really worth pondering his argument at more length. According to The New York Times, Alexander is giving a speech this morning in which he'll say the following:
"Voters who turned out in November are going to be pretty disappointed when they learn the first thing Democrats want to do is cut off the right of the people they elected to make their voices heard on the floor of the U.S. Senate."
Of course, this is entirely off point, and has nothing to do with what's actually being proposed, as Steve Benen points out:
Putting aside the misguided take on public opinion -- does Alexander really think voters are fans of Senate obstructionist tactics? -- there are no proposals under consideration that would silence Senate voices. Hell, the notion of eliminating the filibuster and allowing the Senate to operate by majority rule isn't even on the table.
The main proposal being pushed by reform-minded Democrats has three main provisions: (1) prohibiting filibusters on motions to proceed, which prevent senators from even having a debate; (2) ending the practice of secret holds; and (3) forcing those filibustering legislation to actually stand on the floor and talk endlessly.
If Lamar Alexander believes implementing these changes "cut off" Senate members and prevent "their voices" from being heard, he's deeply confused about the nature of the debate.
Yep. Confused, or perhaps wily. The interesting question here is this: Why exactly is it that Senator Alexander feels free to air a response that's pure fiction? The Times story, which is otherwise very good, doesn't print any kind of Dem response to Alexander's nonsense. There is an explanation of what the reform proposals actually are in the story, but no effort was made to fact-check Alexander's claims or give readers a way of evaluating them. The good Senator probably is fully aware he can say this kind of thing with no repercussions to speak of.
Alexander's speech this morning contains the same stuff and a lot more, so let's hope his speech -- and other similar arguments we're sure to hear along these lines as this debate heats up -- is met with some aggressive scrutiny and fact checking.
| January 4, 2011; 11:04 AM ET
Categories: Senate Republicans, filibuster
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