Surprise: President Who Once Warned Against Changing the Filibuster Now Supports Changing the Filibuster

Posted: Nov 28, 2012 3:36 PM

Actually, no surprise at all.  This development is as shameless as it was inevitable:

Jumping squarely into the white-hot debate currently being waged in the Senate, the White House on Wednesday said it supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's efforts to change the rules of the upper chamber. "The President has said many times that the American people are demanding action," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "They want to see progress, not partisan delay games. That hasn't changed, and the President supports Majority Leader Reid's efforts to reform the filibuster process." ... This endorsement of Reid's effort to reform the filibuster is the firmest White House statement to date on the matter. During last year's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to give judicial and "public service" nominees an up-or-down vote. But when Reid was contemplating a set of rules changes before the last Congress, the administration was largely ambivalent with its support and even less so with its engagement.  

Obama lecturing Congress about affording judicial nominees an "up-or-down vote" is especially rich, given this fun flashback:

In January 2006, then-Sen. Obama joined 24 colleagues in a futile effort led by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of now-Justice Samuel Alito. On January 29, 2006, Mr. Obama told George Stephanopulos on "This Week" that he would "be supporting the filibuster because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values, you know. When you look at his decisions in particular during times of war, we need a court that is independent and is going to provide some check on the executive branch, and he has not shown himself willing to do that repeatedly."  

Now that he's president, Obama says he's "evolved" on this issue -- suddenly favoring limits on the same tool he used as a lawmaker.  Or maybe he's just a liberal ideologue who adopts whatever position is most expedient to his immediate interests, regardless of what he's said or done in the past.  On more than one occasion, I've posted a video compilation of Democrats inveighing against changing the rules of the Senate to limit the filibuster.  Those strenuous objections came back when they were in the minority, natch.  Buzzfeed has pieced together an even more delicious clip reel starring some very familiar faces railing against the horror of a simple majority altering the uber-sacred institution of American democracy and Western civilization itself, the filibuster.  Feel the indignation.  Feel it:

Republicans are also circulating some choice quotes from the man behind this big push, who denounced the prospect of breaking Senate rules to change them as "very un-American" in 2005.  Meet the very un-American current Senate Majority Leader:

"I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules. I never suggested that at all. I say to my friend, I want to work something out. I repeat that for probably the fifth time here today, but in the process we cannot give up the basic rights this country and this Senate have had for more than 200 years."

"For people to suggest that you can break the rules to change the rules is un-American. The only way you can change the rule in this body is through a rule that now says, to change a rule in the Senate rules to break a filibuster still requires 67 votes. You can't do it with 60. You certainly cannot do it with 51. But now we are told the majority is going to do the so-called nuclear option. We will come in here, having the Vice President seated where my friend and colleague from Nevada is seated. The Parliamentarian would acknowledge it is illegal, it is wrong, you can't do it, and they would overrule it. It would simply be: We are going to do it because we have more votes than you. You would be breaking the rules to change the rules. That is very un-American."

But now it's totally different, you see, because they're in the majority -- so what was once an un-American nuclear holocaust against all that is decent and right is now an important and long-overdue "reform."  (To be clear, I'm not arguing against any and all filibuster reform on principle.  I'm just shining the light on Democrats' incandescent hypocrisy).