New Mexico’s liberal junior senator, Jeff Bingaman, has been successful in gaining a reputation as a bipartisan moderate despite his very liberal voting record. Part of Senator Bingaman’s success is the result of his unique ability to vote on both sides of an issue:
As some of you may know, the Democrats in the United States Senate have filibustered 10 of President Bush’s judicial nominees, and some have been waiting for a constitutionally guaranteed right to receive an up or down vote for up to four years. This kind of obstructionist behavior is unprecedented, irresponsible and grossly inexcusable. Most appalling of all is the insurmountable hypocrisy of the Senate Democrats. Ironically enough, in 1995, a total of 19 Democratic senators voted to end the filibuster option on all Senate matters (S.Res. 14, CQ Vote #1: Motion Agreed To 76-19: R 53-0; D 23-19). Even more ironically, nine of those very same democratic senators still serve today (Bingaman, Boxer, Feingold, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Lieberman and Sarbanes) and of these nine, all now oppose the filibuster rules change for only judicial nominees. Meaning they have no problem changing the filibuster rules, but only if the change would best suit their political agenda
However, Senator Bingaman should probably not be judged too harshly for his flip-flopping. Apparently, voting for something before you vote against it is an unwritten rule for junior Senate Democrats.
With all of that said, the true test of the Senator’s moderateness is at hand. Senator Bingaman is about to face one of his most important votes, and it remains to be seen whether he will follow in the footsteps of another liberal democratic senator eager to be seen as moderate. As a constituent, the one thing I sincerely hope is that Senator Bingman does vote instead of being bullied into a filibuster.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if Senator Bingaman has the strength of character to speak out against the mudslinging that demeans the entire confirmation process. Consider this:
NARAL is using the image of the abortion clinic bombing by Eric Rudolph to suggest that Judge Roberts would excuse such violence–even though NARAL’s leaders have admitted to the press that Judge Roberts has condemned clinic violence. Indeed, the Washington Post reported last week that in 1986, when he was an assistant in the White House counsel’s office, Mr. Roberts wrote a memo recommending against a presidential pardon for abortion-clinic bombers. “No matter how lofty or sincerely held the goal, those who resort to violence to achieve it are criminals,” Roberts wrote.
Vicious, FALSE attack ads should not be part of a confirmation process to the highest court in the land. I wonder… do you think Senator Bingaman will demonstrate leadership by speaking out against them?