Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Political expediency

I found this little nugget by Eric Pfeiffer at NRO's Beltway Buzz. It's almost as if politicians believe all their statements exist in a vacuum somewhere:

Last Saturday, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said his fellow Democrats’ use of the filibuster was “grounded in Senate tradition,” and that the GOP’s goal is to “silence the minority.”

Through the glory of Nexis, I’ve come across a 1994 CNN interview with Mitchell in which he sounded a different tune.

Mitchell, on the GOP’s use of filibusters: “I think that the previous restraint that senators had exercised with respect to the rules had vanished, and as a result, the rules are being abused in a way that obstructs and prevents action. That wasn't intended by the men who started this country and wrote the Constitution.“

When CNN’s Bob Franken asked Mitchell if the filibuster should remain, Mitchell responded:
“I think we should keep them, but we should limit the opportunities for their use much more than is now the case.“

Franken then asked, “But what is the purpose of a filibuster? What constructive purpose does it serve?”Mitchell answered, “It can prevent precipitous action. It's intended to permit a longer time for consideration. Like all things in life that serve a useful purpose, it can be abused, and it was abused in this Congress. I hope the next Congress doesn't act in the same way.”

Finally, in direct contradiction to Mitchell’s defense of the Democrats’ filibuster, Mitchell said this back in ’94:

“Now, I don't want to be defending the filibuster and I don't want to be defending the obstructionist tactics that the Republicans used in this past Congress. But I think the appropriate course is to say that we retain those provisions which make the Senate the unique institution it is, but we reform them in a way that doesn't lend itself to abuse of those procedures.”

I guess it's just not kids that say the darndest things!

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