"I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing." - Joe Biden, 2005
Few Americans would be shocked to hear that members of Congress are not always consistent, and occasionally outright hypocritical. Very often, however, the liberal media attempts to downplay Democratic double standards and highlight Republican ones.
Each recent change in the congressional majority, it seems has brought calls from the newly dominant party for an end to the filibuster. This Democratic majority is no different.
When noting rhetorical inconsistencies, however, the mainstream media has jumped at the chance to note that Republicans, now using the filibuster as a potential means to block Democratic health care legislation, were ardent advocates of majoritarianism in the Senate only a few years ago (as demonstrated in the video below the fold).
Few in the media, however, note the equally stark disconnect between Democrats' lamentations about Republican obstructionism and their professed belief in the filibuster before they were voted into the majority.
In numerous reports on the status of health care negotiations in the Senate, prominent media outlets made sure to mention that Republicans used the so-called "nuclear option"--known in parliamentary terms as the budget reconciliation process--to overcome Democratic filibusters. But conspicuously absent are mentions of Democrats' unequivocal condemnations of reconciliation.
CNN made sure to parrot Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's talking point, noting that "reconciliation has been used 21 times since 1981." He apparently did not consider than an ample excuse in 2005 when he said the filibuster was "never more important than when one party controls congress and the White House. In these cases the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government."
In addition to reissuing Reid talking points, the New York Times on its website stated that reconciliation "is no more of a hardball tactic than the filibuster, and it is clearly permitted under the rules." But Reid himself stated only a few years back that Republicans were "not going to follow the Senate rules … because of the arrogance of power of this Republican administration."
A story on the website for CBS News also read like a Democratic Senate leadership press release, issuing the same quotes from Reid--noting that Republicans have purportedly used reconciliation more often then Democrats--without mentioning the majority leader's about face.
These stories conveniently omitted numerous statements by a number of prominent Senate Democrats during the Republican majority, as shown in the video above. Barack Obama himself lamented the "absolute majoritarian power" the use of reconciliation would create, adding, "that's just not what the Founders intended."
Congressional majorities are generally made up of small-d democrats, while minorities are usually small-r republicans. Opportunism is nothing new in Congress.
But we should at least expect the news media to take it with a grain of salt, considering the perennial discrepancies between what the two parties say depending on their statuses in Congress. The outlets mentioned above, far from serving as watchdogs, simply regurgitated Democratic talking points without a hint of criticism or analysis.
All of this leaves the American people wondering who the bigger hypocrites are: the politicians constantly changing their positions, or the reporters who cover them.