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Hannity More In Favor Of Alito Filibuster Than Democrat Beckel

Reported by Ellen - January 27, 2006

Last night (1/26/06), Sean Hannity dared the Democrats to filibuster Judge Alito’s confirmation vote. Puffing himself up with bravado, Hannity claimed it would be a good thing for Republicans because, he falsely claimed, Americans have made up their minds in favor of Alito. Another Hannity & Colmes, another Hannity lie, another substitute co-host more interested in cozying up to FOX News Republicans than in being a Democratic advocate. Fortunately, last night’s mix also included Todd Webster, a Democratic strategist with a real strategy who knew how to do well on H&C. For that reason, I have named Webster as the next News Hounds Top Dog.

Bob Beckel, sitting in for Alan Colmes, opened the discussion about Alito by reading an excerpt from a New York Times editorial saying, “A filibuster is a radical tool. It’s easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things that are far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.” Beckel didn’t mention that the name of the editorial is “Senators In Need Of A Spine.” The same could be said of certain substitute co-hosts.

Like Susan Estrich earlier in the week (but without the flirting), Beckel seemed to expend more effort proving how much he likes Republicans and conservatives than he did on espousing any Democratic beliefs. He started off the discussion by letting the audience know that he’s not much of a fan of Ted Kennedy. “John Kerry seems to have stepped up to the challenge (of the Times’ call for a filibuster)… and he’s enlisted the support of fellow Massachusetts Senator, Ted Kennedy.” With gratuitous sarcasm, Beckel added, “There’s a surprise.”

His first question, to Republican Kellyanne Conway, indicated no concern about the Alito nomination, delved into none of the reasons the Times and Kerry had taken such a strong position. Instead, Beckel damned them with faint praise and gave a generous opening for Conway to criticize. “The New York Times has the First Amendment right to say what it wants to say, the Democratic Party has the right to filibuster, a party has the right to be opposed to a president’s nominee. What’s the beef?"

Conway said it’s all about Roe v. Wade “'cause it’s all they care about. They only care about one issue – one simple decision in 220 years of legal jurisprudence in this country.”

In fact, Roe v. Wade is only part of the picture. As The Times so eloquently stated,

But portraying the Alito nomination as just another volley in the culture wars vastly underestimates its significance. The judge's record strongly suggests that he is an eager lieutenant in the ranks of the conservative theorists who ignore our system of checks and balances, elevating the presidency over everything else. He has expressed little enthusiasm for restrictions on presidential power and has espoused the peculiar argument that a president's intent in signing a bill is just as important as the intent of Congress in writing it. This would be worrisome at any time, but it takes on far more significance now, when the Bush administration seems determined to use the cover of the "war on terror" and presidential privilege to ignore every restraint, from the Constitution to Congressional demands for information.

Beckel’s lackluster way of putting it was that in addition to abortion, “the other (issue) is presidential prerogatives which this guy seems to want to give the president everything he wants.” But Beckel’s next question to Conway indicated a lack of any real interest in the very serious question of Constitutional checks and balances. In fact, it indicated a lack of any real interest in Alito at all because the focus was all on the Democrats. “If you were where we are now, and there was a nominee to the Supreme Court who was pro-choice, pro-gay marriage against the death penalty and you knew that, could you not morally stand on the sidelines? Wouldn’t you go out and do everything you could to stop him?”

Conway responded with the old “We didn’t do it to Ginsburg and Breyer” argument, which she claimed was because “they had fair hearings.” Beckel either didn't know or he didn't care that this was a canard, that the real reason Ginsburg and Breyer were so easily confirmed was because Ginsburg and Breyer were consensus nominees, nominated by President Clinton at the suggestion of Senator Orrin Hatch. The other guest, Democratic strategist, Todd Webster, sat shaking his head silently, uncalled on. Beckel never asked Webster a single question.

Beckel not only allowed the untruth about the Ginsburg and Breyer confirmations to go unchallenged, he once again overlooked the far more troubling aspects of Alito’s record by replying, “Neither one of them (Ginsburg or Breyer) are pro-gay marriage, by the way.”

Then it was Sean Hannity’s turn. He finally addressed Todd Webster. “I want you to go forward. I want you to encourage Kerry, encourage Kennedy… You just keep going because you’re not winning anybody over with these tactics and the extreme point of view. The American people decided. He has the temperament, the intellect, the president won the election.”

Comment: The reality is that the American people have NOT decided that, if a FOX News poll out the same day is to be believed. According to Question 17 of the poll, a majority of Americans do not back the confirmation. 47% think he should be confirmed, 32% say he should not and 21% don’t know. The fact that Hannity felt the need to distort the truth indicates a chink in the armor of his certainty.

Webster knew just how to deal with Hannity – by getting out his own message and not being deterred by Hannity’s theatrical bullying tactics. No thanks to Beckel, Webster grabbed the opportunity to succinctly go through the important points: Alito is replacing a swing vote on the Court, his term of service will probably last decades, and the decision has “far-reaching and far-lasting consequences.” Ignoring Hannity’s attempts to interrupt him, Webster pleasantly continued. “Not only is he opposed to a woman’s privacy, a woman’s right to choose, but he’s against worker’s rights, he is for increased executive power and over the last five years, if we’ve learned anything, between spying in our libraries and between intervening in intense and personal family decisions and wiretapping without a court order. We don’t need any more executive power in this administration. We need…”

After trying fruitlessly to stop Webster, Hannity eventually got a word in edgewise. “I really hope you do filibuster. Here’s the bottom line…”

Webster interrupted Hannity again. “Well, you may get your wish, Sean. Let the chips fall where they may.”

Hannity tried to argue that Alito’s record indicates he would not try to overturn Roe v. Wade. The adoption of this stance by Hannity, a rabid anti-abortionist, as a reason to confirm Alito was another indication of a chink in the Hannity bravado.

Next, Hannity turned to Conway. “The Democratic Party has been hijacked by the hard left and it is hurting themselves at the polls and I say the more we see of Biden and Ted Kennedy, I like it. It’s good.”

Conway conveniently ignored everything Webster just said. She claimed again that the opposition to Alito was “not one philosophy, not one ideology… It’s all about abortion.”

Beckel interrupted to end the segment, but not before assuring Conway, “Believe me, I’m not cutting you off.” But Webster, the ready-for-prime-time Democrat, seized the moment and ran out the clock. “It’s not all about abortion. It’s about worker’s rights, it’s about privacy rights, it’s about being (unintelligible).”

You go, Todd!

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