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Conservative Lies #3

November 14th, 2003

Lie #3: “Democrats are blocking Bush’s judicial nominees.”

You hear this one a lot. It just got smugly reiterated by Bush and made headlines, about how Democrats are using “ugly politics” in blocking his nominees. This just really ticked me off, considering how blatantly hypocritical it was; I was already drafting this article when Bush’s outrageous statement was reported.

Somehow there’s the idea out there that when Clinton was in office, the Republicans were quite cooperative and acted fairly, but now that Bush is in office, the Democrats are on a spree of blocking judicial nominees. Bush himself told fellow Republicans that “We have a vacancy crisis in America… There are too many seats that aren’t filled with judges and therefore America hurts. America’s not getting the justice it needs.” Senator Leahy (D-VT) countered that vacancy rates in the judiciary have been lower than at any time in the Clinton administration.

Bush, in his usual pattern of taking the few minority and women nominees he makes and putting them in the spotlight as if he never heard of a white male before, told the press that “These three women are being denied a chance to serve on the bench because of ugly politics in the United States Senate,” implying not only that Democrats are blocking his nominees, but also that they’re blocking women, just like they blocked Miguel Estrada, a minority. “It’s wrong and it’s shameful, and it’s hurting the system,” he said.

The fact of the matter is, only four Bush nominees have been blocked, and those nominees (Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen, William Pryor and Miguel Estrada) have been staunch conservatives; Republicans regularly blocked Clinton nominees who were far less ideologues than these.

Bush claimed that as many as a third of all his nominations have been blocked, but he’s lying–either that, or he must believe his name is Bill Clinton, who was the one who had at least 30% of his nominations–predominantly moderate–blocked by the GOP (Here’s a conservative pundit who raved about how Clinton’s 31% block rate on the court of appeals was “not a bad deal”).

Democrats have blocked only two percent of Bush’s. And just the most outrageously conservative, at a time when pretty much every judge nominated by Bush is as conservative as his administration can find. 98% of them have been passed. And yet Republicans are screaming about how Democrats are being unfair, even going to the extreme of scheduling a 30-hour marathon session just so they can stir up publicity to show how Democrats are filibustering nominees (the filibuster was the weapon of choice when the GOP was blocking fully 63 Clinton nominees).

As for GOP claims that Democrats are “racist,” how about the fact that during the Clinton administration, Republicans blocked 35% of Clinton’s nominees who were minorities, but only 14% of his white nominees. If anyone is racist, it is crystal clear that it is the Republicans.

But the big lie keeps on getting pushed front and center; the GOP technique is to take their own worst sins and claim that they belong to the other guys.

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