A number of commentators were favorably predisposed toward Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday. On FOX News Channel’s “Special Report,” syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer called the day-long talk-in a “stroke of political genius,” adding, “This will be a moment that people will say has launched him as a national figure.”
Obviously not everyone shared that opinion. One who didn’t was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who, when asked at a press briefing today whether she watched the filibuster, quipped:
There are certain things that fall into the category of ‘life is too short.’ I myself had four speeches to make last night. I was doing my own thing. I have my own responsibilities.
But then she said something truly memorable: “I took note that it was happening, and let me say that I hope the Democrats will use the filibuster sometime as well in that way.” [Emphasis added]
Sometime? Has Pelosi never heard the name Robert Bork? It was in 1987, her first year in the U.S. House of Representatives, that Bork was made the target of the fiercest, most partisan attack in the history of the legislature. A Reagan appointment to the Supreme Court, Bork was ridiculed and railed at by Senate Democrats of the day, including the late Ted Kennedy and current Vice President Joe Biden.
Kennedy was particularly brutal in his no-holds-barred character assassination of the nominee, famously declaring if Bork won approval:
Women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.
Technically Bork was not filibustered, though doing so would have been an act of kindness compared with the gratuitously hostile treatment he endured. So legendary was the Democrats’ beatdown of the nominee that his last name became an English verb meaning “to attack (a candidate or public figure) systematically.”
This is not to suggest, incidentally, that the Democrats have never resorted to the filibuster per se. The technique was last used in December 2010 by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who delivered an 8-and-one-half-hour tirade against extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
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