Two things up front. First, I don't really like the idea of a 'filibuster'. Often, it seems like taking one's ball and going home. That being said, I have some vestiges Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, (or, for the West Wing fans Stackhouse Filibuster), good-government idealism left in me, so I can see the appeal of standing up for a righteous cause, and fighting it out with every maneuver at your disposal.
Second, my thanks to RIA for inspiring both my thoughts on the matter, and inducing me to broadcast them. This post is best read as a response to her well considered disappointment with the filibuster. To those of you who disagree with me, I welcome a discussion on the subject, and hope we can engage our "best minds", as she might put it. If we can't speak openly about our ideas, where are we?
So, on to why I support the filibuster, even if calling it in from a ski slope in Switzerland doesn't seem the best plan from a tactical standpoint.
Part of my disagreement with RIA's position is ideological. Alito will be that bad. I'm not sure you can have an appreciation of how bad a Justice Clarence Thomas is without getting into it. It's not the results he reaches, it's the blatantly non-legalistic way in which he reaches them. Precedent he doesn't like is not binding, but if he likes the result it would engender, he's "bound to follow". His opinion in the recent Oregon right-to-die case is a perfect example in point - he thought Raich (the recent medical marijuana decision) wrongly decided, but didn't like the Oregon law, so he dissented based on Raich, if that makes sense. And I think Alito might be worse on every aspect of individual rights and freedoms.
And I could maybe live with that save for the executive power issue, where he truly is off the reservation, Borkishly so. I'm not sure how strongly I can express my disgust for the "Yoo doctrine" which he appears to buy. It's wrong, and based on a very selective reading of history and precedent, but it's 'truthy', so gets trotted out to defend such laudable acts as torture, kidnapping and presidential law-breaking.
For those reasons, he is to be fought tooth and nail. Yes, the Democrats bungled the hearings, but that doesn't mean it's time to close up shop.
As for the 'tactical' aspects, the Dems have been talking 'tactics' on everything that comes down the pike, and have 'tactically retreated' us into one (bungled) war, the rumblings of another in Iran, a disastrous disaster response, a drug package that is quite possibly worse than that for anyone without Pfizer stock options, and active disenfranchisement of minority voters in Texas and Georgia. And I could go on. At a certain point one has to stand up to a bully.
Additionally, the fact that prominent GOPers went immediately ON RECORD to denigrate Kerry's move leads me to suspect that we're doing something right. If they were really happy about it, they'd crush it first, crow about it next Tuesday at the State of the Union, and then have a snack. Polls strongly show that if Alito were to cause an overturn of Roe, people would lose their minds - that case is not hard to be made so it's time to stand up and do it.
Between Roe and "would allow presidential law breaking (which oh, by the way would also include no accountability for the Katrina response)" those are two pretty strong assaults to be countered merely with mealy-mouthed assurances of "well-qualified jurist".
As for the 'opportunistic' aspect, so what? That's part and parcel of politics. Further, the charge of 'opportunism' is just another one of the dissent-squashing fear tactics that this administration has used to cow all opposition since 9/11. I'm sick of being called a coward or a traitor or an opportunist, or a defeatist every time I advocate what I genuine think is best. That's why I jumped on XWL earlier this week for his take Joel Stein's LA Times column, and that's why I'm riled up now.
And so I get back to it, at a certain point the opposition party has to stop quivering in fear every time Karl Rove looks at them funny and start opposing. If not now, when?