Tag Archives: Bill Frist

The force of reasons

Fig 1: violence

We begin with a tale of inconsistency, borrowing (pretty much completely) from Atrios:

Krauthammer. [2005, when Republicans held a narrow majority in the Senate]

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seems intent on passing a procedural ruling to prevent judicial filibusters.

The Democrats have unilaterally shattered one of the longest-running traditions in parliamentary history worldwide. They are not to be rewarded with a deal. They must either stop or be stopped by a simple change of Senate procedure that would do nothing more than take a 200-year-old unwritten rule and make it written.

What the Democrats have done is radical. What Frist is proposing is a restoration.

versus Krauthammer. [2013, when Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate]

The violence to political norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52 to 48 . This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

These two views are hugely inconsistent, of course.

What is even more ridiculous, however, is how Krauthammer characterizes a losing vote: “violence,” “brute force.”  Er, no.  It’s the opposite of that.

Furthermore, just because you can change rules (even allegedly longstanding ones) does not imply there are no rules.  For, after all, there is a rule that says how rules are changed.  That rule, at least, stays in place.