On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid showed up for a phone interview on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR to discuss shredding the filibuster for presidential appointees. A very polite Rehm asked if this might make partisanship worse.
“I'm sorry to smile, as you can't see on radio, but more dysfunction? I mean, gee whiz,” Reid replied. But underneath the Nevada-nice routine came an attack out of nowhere on black libertarian judge Janice Rogers Brown as one of the “extreme right wing people” the Senate confirmed in the Bush years.
After the “gee whiz,” Reid added, “I mean, when you have constitutionally necessary posts like judges who they refused to put in office -- take, for example, the D.C. Circuit, which was the culmination of this fight. If we had hired the best search team in the world to find the four most qualified people to fill these open spots, you couldn't do better than Caitlin Halligan and the three that they just turned down.”
Conservatives disagree, opposing Halligan as a liberal legislator thinly disguised as a judge.
Later, Reid added that “we put on that court some of the most extreme right wing people you could find. Janice Rogers Brown thinks there's a Communist behind every bush even now.”
That's a little harsh, even compared to scare quotes from the Think Progress blog, which recently lamented:
Brown labeled the New Deal a “socialist revolution,” and she likened Social Security to a kind of intergenerational cannibalism — “[t]oday’s senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren because they have a right to get as much ‘free’ stuff as the political system will permit them to extract.” Since joining the federal bench, she authored a concurring opinion suggesting that all labor, business or Wall Street regulation is constitutionally suspect. The very first sentence of her birth control opinion labels the Affordable Care Act a “behemoth.”