Column: The return to fuzzy math

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first read the headline “GOP Plans Marathon on Judges.” But it was true. It seems that while millions are out of work and troops are dying in Iraq, Republican leadership decided last week that what this nation really needs is a good 30-hour cry fest about four blocked court nominees. Well, at least Republicans are finally fighting for job creation. Four down, nine million to go.

Regardless of motives, a C-SPAN marathon was most assuredly the fulfillment of all my childhood dreams, so naturally I watched all 30 hours straight (I’m lying). Here are some of the things that ran through my mind as I watched. My new favorite senator is Mary Landrieu (D). (sorry, Hillary). Charles Schumer (D) looks like he would make a good mob boss. Sen. Sam Brownback (R) is an idiot. I wonder if Sen. John Corzine (D) knows he looks ridiculous with a comb-over. Sen. Rick Santorum (R) is quoting Shakespeare … Whoa! Rick Santorum is quoting Shakespeare! “Methinks thou doth protest too much.” That’ll wake you up. The man who equated homosexuality with bestiality just quoted “Hamlet,” moving him from nut to total loon in my book.

But the most important thing that went through my mind during the entire debate was this: Republicans have no memory. And they’re bad at math (already knew that one). Republicans are aghast that the Democrats would dare practice the constitutional right of the Senate to block presidential court nominations. So aghast that they didn’t take the time to think back a few years. When President Bill Clinton was in office, Republicans blocked 63 Clinton court nominees. The 63 were either buried in committee or blocked by other means. Thats 63-4. That means, in order to catch up to the Clinton years, Democrats will have to block 59 more Bush judges. Well, that’s for two terms, which President Bush isn’t going to get. So Democrats are going to have to block 27 more court nominees before President Bush goes back to Crawford, Texas, in a year. More C-SPAN marathons and happy times. Ok, I won’t throw around any more numbers because I might confuse too many Republicans with “fuzzy math.” It is important to point out that this debate isn’t about who is in the mainstream and who isn’t. Obviously, Democrats think that the blocked Bush nominees are whackos (they are) and Republicans thought Clinton’s nominees were out of the mainstream, as well. The question is one of simple double standards.

Sen. John Cornyn (R) said, “Four unconstitutional filibusters of these nominees is four filibusters too many.” First, filibustering is perfectly constitutional and made a great Jimmy Stewart movie. But if filibustering is that bad, then why didn’t Republicans support Sen. Frist’s call for a change in the rules to prohibit it during court nominations? They didn’t,because, as that looney toon Santorum explained, Republicans had “uncertainty” about blocking the filibuster method because they may want to use it in the future. Translation of Republican logic: it’s unconstitutional unless we want to use it.

Yet the real double standard is that Republicans are whining about just four nominees. President Bush accused the Democrats of “playing politics,” but Democrats have allowed 168 of his appointees to pass. That’s a 98 percent passage rate compared to the ridiculous 75 percent that Clinton got. Why is it that Republicans think Bush’s nominees should get different treatment than they gave Clinton’s? What has this president done to deserve better treatment than he has already received?

Before Republicans hold photo ops and publicity stunts, they should consider basic fairness. Democrats have treated this president well, and they got repaid with a ridiculous maneuver by Republicans to get their conservative nut base to break open the checkbooks. So who’s really playing politics here? Thats 168-4. 4-63. You can’t argue with those numbers, even with fuzzy math.

The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet contributing editor.

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