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Corporate media lies on the "nuclear option"

The term "nuclear option" was invented in 2003 by Senate Republican leaders, who liked the metaphorical explosiveness of it, which allowed them to feel like they still had balls after years of bending over to do whatever the Republican Central Committee and the White House told them to do.

(Note: there are a few Republicans struggling against enormous pressure to retain their honor -- hopefully there are such Republicans in the Congress, there just aren't many of them.)

Then the Republican National Committee ("RNC") research department discovered that the term "nuclear option" wasn't playing well with the public. So, the Republicans decided to "frame" the term as something that was invented by the Democrats. Guess what? Corporate media has gone along with that, not just FOX, but just about all of it.

For example, the New York Times (Sat Apr 23rd, 2005): "Democrats call this the nuclear option, while Republicans call this a constitutional option."

While it is true that the Republican leadership have taken to covering their tracks by using the term "constitutional option" -- it is an outright lie that the Democrats invented or are claiming the term "nuclear option" as their own, and the NYT knows it. But the NYT prefers to pander to the RNC rather than practice responsible journalism.

It amounts to free ad space provided to the RNC by the NYT and the rest of corporate media.

The idea and the term of "nuclear option" originated with former Republican leader in the Senate, Trent Lott, (known for his defense of the legacy of the southern racist Confederacy). Jeffrey Toobin, from March 7th issue of The New Yorker:

"Changing the Senate's rules on judicial filibustering was first addressed in 2003, during the successful Democratic filibuster against Miguel Estrada, whom Bush had nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Ted Stevens, a Republican Senate veteran from Alaska, was complaining in the cloakroom that the Democratic tactic should simply be declared out of order, and, soon enough, a group of Republican aides began to talk about changing the rules. It was understood at once that such a change would be explosive; Senator Trent Lott, the former Majority Leader, came up with 'nuclear option,' and the term stuck."

The Republicans INVENTED the phrase the "nuclear option" and now they are trying to weasel out of it by calling it a Democratic phrase. Because of a systematic bias to tilt public discussion in favor of Republicans, corporate media is going along with this twisting of the record. In isolation, it shouldn't matter whether it's called the "nuclear option" or called "abolishing the filibuster". It's notable, however, as an example of how the RNC is able to lead the media along any flip-flopping trail that it devises -- without fear of critical journalism from the world of corporate media.


In blogspace, however, the truth will out. For example, Armando (at DailyKos.com) writes:

'I've been made privy to the internal communications of a number of national news organizations at which there are now running arguments over whether to go along with the Republican claim that 'nuclear option' is a Democratic epithet or term of abuse which should be banned except in cases where Democrats are directly quoted using it.'

Another blogger has researched and found where last November, on FOX no less, the Republicans were calling it their expression and their idea (the "nuclear option") --

<< On November 14, 2004, there was the following exchange on Fox News:

<< WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about one of them, because some Republicans are talking about what they call the nuclear option, and that would be a ruling that the filibuster of executive nominees is unconstitutional, which would require not 60 or 67 votes but only a simple majority of 51.

<< FRIST: Yes. That's right.

"FRIST" refers to Senator Frist, the current Republican leader in the Senate. Frist also was found by the same blogger to have made this statement to NPR last November 16 --

<< Sen. FRIST: If we continue to see obstruction where one out of three of the president's nominees to fill vacancies in the circuit court are being obstructed, then action would be taken. One of those is the nuclear option. >>

From "Dr. Who Hates America" by Atrios (at BlogSpot.com) --



Armando has to wonder, if corporate media is debating this documented record --

'What are they debating? Whether to fully expose themselves as GOP Whores or not?'

From "Media Debating Whether To Ignore Frist's Lie" (by Armando at DailyKos.com, Sun Apr 24th, 2005 at 19:47:07 PDT). Unfortunately, this post by Armando has been dropped from the cache. However, other posts by Armando are still on-line about the same subject. Through Congressman John Conyers cache --

Here's a review by Armando of C-Span coverage of the filibuster issues -- C-Span is one of the very few reliable television sources --

Republicans Break the Rules
by Armando
Mon Apr 25th, 2005 at 19:37:31 PDT

I had the pleasure this evening of watching C-Span's broadcast of a Center for American Progress forum on the filibuster this evening (Note: It is being rerun at Midnight EST.) I highly recommend it to everyone.

The speakers were Senator Robert Byrd, who delivered a good speech on the history of the filibuster, Prof. Steven Gerhart of the College of William & Mary and Norm Ornstein of AEI.

Now, it will make your blood boil and every single lie from the GOP is rehashed - but it is well worth it.

The conference especially reminded me of the aspect I have not emphasized enough - the fact that the Republicans MUST break the rules to eliminate the filibuster. Most of you will remember, but I will remind you anyway - because in order to end debate on a rule change, the Republicans would have to overcome a - you guessed it - filibuster.

What is their end run? The ridiculous argument that filibusters of judicial nominees is unconstitutional. Now frankly, this argument does not even reach the level of a laugh test it is so preposterous, as this conference will make clear to you. But that is not even the worst of it.

Even the argument that the filibuster of judicial nominees is unconstitutional is subject to Senate debate and, you guessed it, filibuster.

The Senate parliamentarian has declared that not allowing debate on the constitutionality of the filibuster rule violates the rules of the Senate.

The Republicans do not care that it violates the rules. They simply do not care one whit. The ends justify the means. The rules mean nothing.

Now Republicans will trot out statements from Dems deploring the filibuster (of course ignoring all the statements from Republicans defending the sanctity of the filibuster). But one thing they cannot point to - any action by Democrats violating the rules of the Senate to eliminate the filibuster. On the filibuster, the Democrats always played by the rules. The Republicans won't.

Norm Ornstein calls Frist's "nuclear option" unprecedented, as it is. He scolds the Media for misreporting the issue. As of course they have.

But, as Ornstein noted, these new Republicans, extremists in virtually every respect, have lost all respect for the rule of law (witness the Schiavo travesty) and for playing by the rules.

This is an unprecedented new era of naked, brazen lawlessness - courtesy of the new extremist Republican Party.

And the Media sleeps.
Analysis by the dude 26.Apr.2005 17:11


Dems don't hang tough and yield and don't call the nuclear bluff:

This will likely be allowed by the group of dems that voted for the war. This way the bad repubs can run rough shode over the constitution and the fat dems will blame the bad repubs. And the status quo remains...the fat dems(closet repubs) maintain the repub blame and the oligarchic status quo remains unchanged.

Dems hang tought and call the nuclear bluff:

The dems have nothing to loose with this option.

Break the Rules to Change the Rules 26.Apr.2005 17:29


Who created the term "nuclear option" has become a laughable debate while the Republicans continue to create their own reality by changing the rules of Congress. Whenever the RRR runs into any obstacle to their plans for total domination of our government, they change the rules -- or create a new reality. They did this with the House Ethics Committee to protect Tom DeLay, initially by changing rules allowing him to remain House Majority Leader, even though indicted, then reversing that rule change when polls showed public outcry -- instead they changed the rules to castrate the Dems on the Ethics Committee by allowing the majority -- them -- to stop any ethics violations investigations by majority vote.

Now they are doing the same thing in the Senate with judicial nominees & the use of the filibuster. If they don't like the rules, make new ones. Who's going to stop them? But they do have to first break the rules to change them. I too watched CSPAN's coverage of the Center for American Progress panel & it was refreshing to see Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, the Neocon think-tank, talk about the overreaching of the RRR & the rule of law being ignored by the radical right.

The moderate Republicans may yet stop the "nuclear option" now that Sen. Reid has offered a compromise. But Frist has painted himself into a corner & is gambling his 2008 run on the RRR. So far the Dems have played this pretty well. Reid has been surprisingly clever & hopefully the rope given to the Republicans will be just enough to hang them.

I am Ready to Compromise 26.Apr.2005 22:10


Senate minority leader willing to compromise. Dems willing to compromise. Looking for the right battles to fight. Well we shall see if the imperial president will quack away soon..
Minority Leader Willing to Compromise
Minority Leader Willing to Compromise

I want the fascists to nuke the filibuster 26.Apr.2005 23:00

I want the fascists to nuke the filibuster

you might say "What? are you insane??" well yeah I might be that too. listen the democratic process ... the real democratic process ... has been dead for years. our only hope restarting the path towards real democracy is to shock the traditional republicans, the real conservatives, the illusionary democrats, the compramising liberals, the blind progressives and the other spectators of this political sporting even really come to terms that we are a fascist country heading down to theocracy. I have given up on the fake "left" in this country. so maybe it is time for this country to experience the unmasked face of the fascists that have pulled the strings of the foam rubber puppets that are mere images of liberty and justice. maybe when the real republicans and tradtional conserveratives wake up (which they are just starting to) .. just maybe they will have the "balls" (or ovaries or other wabbly parts) that it will take to rise up against the fascists, because the apathetic and in-fighting "left" sure the HELL WON'T!!!!


Progressive Democrat

The Dude was right the first time --

"Dems hang tought and call the nuclear bluff: The dems have nothing to loose with this option."

Reid did suggest a compromise -- knowing that Frist would reject it, because of the approaching battle over Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court. Essentially Reid upped the ante, knowing that Frist wouldn't call. Most observors are crediting Reid with cleverly framing the Democrats as the reasonable willing-to-make-a-deal guys and the Republicans as the fanatic extremists.

Frist appears to have painted himself into a corner. He's promised the White House and the hypochristian "movement" that he's going to deliver the goods. However, as Reid has stated, IF Frist really had the necessary 51 votes, the deed would have been done like yesterday!

Frist also knew that Reid wasn't, couldn't, have offered to approve the nomination of Myers, the career anti-environmentalist nominee for the 9th Circuit. Thus, it goes beyond just the religious angle -- the corporate benefactors faction must also be pleased. The powers-that-be don't want environmental law enforced!

Comment from "Hunter" at DailyKos.com (Monday evening, April 25)
"Why the Filibusters will Go Forward" (by Hunter)

There are twitters today about a possible compromise between Reid and Frist on the seven nominations. I don't think it's going to happen, but the process of negotiation is necessary theater for both sides. Here's why I think we're headed for the showdown: first, because Frist and the rest of the GOP have wedged themselves between a rock and a hard place. Second, because Sen Harry Reid and associates have set the framework for the coming battle perfectly.

As posted earlier today, the latest WaPo [Washington Post] poll shows this issue as being an absolute disaster for the GOP, on par with the Schaivo fiasco. While Frist and the rest of the GOP shine Dobson's [Dobson is a well-paid head of a hypochristian organization] shoes, they probably weren't counting that in addition to a 80% disapproval on this issue among Democrats, and 70% among independent voters, Republicans are split evenly at 48/46. That's not just bad, that's baby-eating bad. (And by that, I mean Dick Cheney could eat a human baby on live TV, and you'd see Republican numbers not much worse than that.)

Those numbers are very surprising, because it shows that despite my own frequent cynicism, voters are paying attention to the issue, and know something of the issues involved -- and because of that, we see the predictable GOP split between the conservative base and the religious right.

Because the public does know what's going on, you now see the frantic talking point shift from the Nuclear Option to the Constitutional Option. Straight from the bowels of the usual GOP strategists, the Constitutional Option is indecipherably vague, and presented in such a manner as to practically require stapling an American Flag to your forehead while saying it. This is how the GOP has approached national politics for the last few elections: no matter what your agenda is, (1) give it an impossibly abstract name, and (2) hide the actual issue behind that name -- bringing us things like the I Love Baby Eagles Initiative, or the Free America Freedom Liberty Freedom Act to Preserve Freedom. And it's utterly effective, except when the American public already knows about the issue in question. That's why the GOP Social Security initiatives are bombing -- no matter what they call it, the general public is already keenly aware of what Social Security is and what it does for them.

The Nuclear Option, as has been demonstrated elsewhere, came about largely as an inside-the-Beltway term bandied about by Trent Lott and other Republicans -- it wasn't meant for public consumption. Constitutional Option is the focus-grouped alternative, but it's too late. The numbers show the public knows the score, a name change isn't going to patch this one up. The Republicans don't have months to deal with this one, they've got to fish or cut bait within the next several weeks.

At this point, Sen. Bill Frist is screwed. At this point, his only options are to move forward, infuriating the 48% of Republicans who see this overreach as another Schaivo-like pandering, or back down, raising absolute frothing head-spinning holy hell with the far right. He's got to piss off one group or the other, there's no other choice.

What's not here, however, is a reason for the Democrats to give in quietly. Or even noisily, for that matter.