Monday, April 25, 2005

You Can't Make This Stuff Up ...

"Current Senate rules require 60 votes to close debate on a confirmation, allowing Democrats to thwart the action by mustering 41 votes. Republicans want to lower the threshold for closing debate on all nominations to a simple majority. Democrats call this the nuclear option, while Republicans call this a constitutional option."

-- New York Times, April 22

"What it basically -- it's called the nuclear option."

-- Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), Nov. 14, 2004, on Fox News Sunday.

"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."

-- Frist, Nov. 16, 2004, on National Public Radio.

"(Sen. Frist) will in fact impose the nuclear option."

-- Rev. Jerry Falwell, Feb. 16, on CNN's Crossfire.

"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."

-- New Yorker magazine, March 7.

***

And who cares, anyway?

Well, the conservatives do. This is classic Frank Luntz -- try to sell the American people your idea by using sunny, pleasing phrasing. In the old days -- the days when reporters nationwide tried to emulate Woodward and Bernstein -- politicians would have to go directly to the people with this kind of etymological spin.

But now we live in a world where conservative pundits can repeat "alternate facts" and "alternate histories" as if they are true. When they do so enough, eventually this alternate universe makes its way into the mainstream media, who feel compelled to provide "fair and balanced" coverage, lest they be labeled "liberal."

Is it any surprise then that the "liberal" New York Times ran conservative spin as fact?

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