HackWatch: Our First Installment!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Well that didn’t take long.

We already have our first installment of HackWatch, courtesy of Gene Healy.  Your inaugural hack-tastic politico: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Here’s Kyl in 2005 (pdf) on the subject of using the Senate filibuster to hold up Supreme Court nominations:

Republicans seek to right a wrong that has undermined 214 years of tradition – wise, carefully thought-out tradition. The fact that the Senate rules theoretically allowed the filibuster of judicial nominations but were never used to that end is an important indicator of what is right, and why the precedent of allowing up-or-down votes is so well established. It is that precedent that has been attacked and which we seek to restore….

My friends argue that Republicans may want to filibuster a future Democratic President’s nominees. To that I say, I don’t think so, and even if true, I’m willing to give up that tool. It was never a power we thought we had in the past, and it is not one likely to be used in the future. I know some insist that we will someday want to block Democrat judges by filibuster. But I know my colleagues. I have heard them speak passionately, publicly and privately, about the injustice done to filibustered nominees. I think it highly unlikely that they will shift their views simply because the political worm has turned.

Here’s Jon Kyl’s warning to President-Elect Obama last month:

Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal.

Kyl, Arizona’s junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said.

“He believes in justices that have empathy,” said Kyl, speaking at a Federalist Society meeting in Phoenix. The attorneys group promotes conservative legal principles.

Kyl said if Obama goes with empathetic judges who do not base their decisions on the rule of law and legal precedents but instead the factors in each case, he would try to block those picks via filibuster.

Kyl has set the bar pretty high, here.  So high, in fact, that I’m having a hard time envisioning how anyone could top him.  There’s really no wiggle room in those two statements.  For that, I’m giving him a 10 out of 10 on the somewhat-arbitrary “Hackery Index.”

If you see an example of a pundit, politician, major blogger, or other Beltway creature who’s done a 180 on this or another issue, please send it here, with links, and “HackWatch” in the subject line.

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11 Responses to “HackWatch: Our First Installment!”

  1. #1 |  Gavin | 

    Is this John Kyl related at all to the republican senator Jon Kyl from Arizona?

  2. #2 |  Jason | 

    This is a 180 I can live with.

  3. #3 |  MikeL | 

    It’s not really a 180. It’s Kyl saying whatever he needs to say to get his way. If he thought the best way to get his picks on the Supreme Court was to claim the moon was made of green cheese, he’d be going on at length about how the liberals hate the Lunar Farmers for the quality of this year’s lunar fromage.

  4. #4 |  perlhaqr | 

    I think you might want to make that a 100 point scale… ;)

  5. #5 |  Graham | 

    Although I appreciate the service, Radley, I’m afraid of this HackWatch business taking over your site. I suspect the material available might far exceed the time you have to post it, and I’m certain plenty more is generated daily.

  6. #6 |  jwh | 

    So I guess you expect Republicans to play by different rules then Democrats, eh? Dems broke the “tradition”. It’s not the Republicans role to play by the “historical” rules of the Senate, while the libs get to change the rules when it suits them.

    Democrats filibustered W’s judicial nominations. BO shouldn’t be surprised now if his picks are shown the same courtesy.

    I give this one a 3, on your very arbitrary scale……

  7. #7 |  Radley Balko | 

    Democrats filibustered W’s judicial nominations. BO shouldn’t be surprised now if his picks are shown the same courtesy.

    True of lower-level appointees, though not many.

    But Kyl was specifically referring to potential Obama Supreme Court nominations. Jog my memory–which of W.’s Supreme Court nominations did the Dems filibuster?

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish they had. Both Alito and Roberts. But they didn’t.

    Also, the point of the post is that Kyl specifically promised not to use the filibuster, even if a Democrat took over the White House. This, I guess, was evidence of his good faith, a sign that we should take his argument seriously.

    What’s it say about his integrity that three years later, and less than a week after the election, he’d already personally promised to filibuster any ObamaS.C. nominee he doesn’t like?

    And to answer your question, I don’t expect Republicans to play by any rules, or adhere to any principles. I expect them to be rudderless, spineless politicians whose main interest is getting reelected. I expect the same of the Democrats.

    And I’m almost always right!

  8. #8 |  David | 

    And I’m almost always right!

    there’s only one explanation for this: Radley has psychic powers!

  9. #9 |  Edintally | 

    ….to pile onto JWH’s faulty memory. Repubs threatened the Dems with changing the rules and getting rid of the Filibuster if the Dems didn’t play ball with the Supreme Court nominees for Bush.

    Who would have thought they would access the same rule when they were out of power?!

    I understand their first goal is to get re-elected, but DAMN can we get a dash of personal integrity here? I honestly don’t know how some people sleep at night knowing how full of shit they are. All the Ex-Lax in the world wouldn’t unclog some of these people.

  10. #10 |  Steven O'Dell | 

    The filibuster was named after a senator with the same moniker and he should have been gagged and told to sit down. When hours may be taken up with reading poetry, Dr. Seuss books and just plain gibberish to waste time and keep anyone from offering rational thought, it is time to question the “whiz-dumb” of such a practice. And if your mouth gets dry while spewing drivel, all you need is a good assistant to bring you water so you may keep vomiting your trash to the halls of “government”. No wonder many of our representatives fall asleep (or come drunk–“back in your bottle, Ted”) by the time anything important is brought up to vote on–perhaps this was the intent all along? I say fire them all and start fresh with the most UN-qualified men available. At least they will be too timid to cause trouble for a long time.

    “Vote for Gridlock!”

  11. #11 |  ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas … at Deceiver.com | 

    […] The Agitator’s “HackWatch” is blasting U.S. Senator John Kyl, who used to be against using the filibuster to block Supreme Court nominees. Of course, that was before a new president got ready to take over. […]