Putrid verbiage, cont’d

The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board can be relied on faithfully to echo Democratic Party talking points, as it does today in its lead editorial. Here you have it:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had it exactly right: The war in Iraq is being debated in every schoolhouse, church and business in America right now, but the Republican minority refuses to allow a debate in the U.S. Senate, so afraid is it that the result would be a vote of no confidence in President Bush’s conduct of the war.

The Star Tribune to the contrary notwithstanding, the Republican minority assured that debate could continue, though the failure of cloture prevented a vote on the resolution in issue. John patiently explained the substance of the procedural maneuvering in “Obstructionism.”
Matters related to the filibuster have become a pons asinorum for Star Tribune readers. In 1993 the Star Tribune published an editorial in the bullying style that is a kind of trademark; the Star Tribune editorial board is long on argument by adjective, invective, and banging the fist on the table. In 1993, the Star Tribune condemned the Senate filibuster as “the putrid flood of verbiage known as the filibuster.” In 1994 it lauded efforts to abolish the filibuster. In the spring of 2005, however, the Star Tribune praised the virtues of the filibuster and condemned Republican efforts to end it in connection with judicial nominations.
We wrote about the Star Tribune’s “down the memory hole” approach to opinion journalism here in “1994 was so long ago” and in related posts including “That was then, this is now” and “Walter Mondale hits bottom.” We also wrote about the Star Tribune on the filibuster for the Daily Standard in “They were against it, before they were for it.”
The first of our posts on the Star Tribune and the filibuster included full text images of the Star Tribune’s 1993 and 1994 editorials in a reduced format that could be blown up by clicking on the image (as John explained in the post). The post nevertheless prompted this mind-boggling message from deputy editorial page editor Jim Boyd challenging the factual basis of our charge of editorial inconsistency:

Waiting for the citation from the Star Tribune where we called for a change in Senate rules to outlaw the filibuster on either policy issues or judicial candidates. Sure, we sometimes didn’t like them, but can you find a place where we ever called for a rule change?
Me thinks not; as usual, you are just changing the subject. And unlike us, you don’t even print responses to your views.

Later that day Boyd wrote:

The main point is that we’ve never urged Democrats in the Senate to abolish the filibuster, let alone use a point of order maneuver to get around a filibuster on a rules change in order to make a rules change. Nor have we ever urged a Democratic president to make recess appointments of rejected judges, or to bring back rejected judges for a second try.
Nor did your original post deal with the substance of the Sunday editorial; you just said we were being hypocrites. That’s not true, but even if it were, it wouldn’t speak to the arguments in the Sunday editorial. They stand on their own merit.

Two days later, Boyd wrote:

Re. the filibuster: I was looking only at the one 1993 editorial about filibusters. There was a second editorial in 1994, in which we endorsed a Don Fraser proposal for revising senate rules. We’d missed the second one in a search we did before running our Sunday editorial. We found it about half an hour ago. I think you actually have caught us in a contradiction. We can change our mind, as we did on light rail, but in this case, we really didn’t. We simply missed the precedent and, like a court, if we make such a shift, we owe readers an explanation for why we did it.

When we posted this message from Boyd, John commented:

I really do wonder: is the Star Tribune’s editorial board actually going to try to explain why it advocated terminating the filibuster when the Republicans were in the minority, but considers it a bulwark of democracy now that the Democrats are using it? If so, it should be interesting.

The Star Tribune subsequently ran Walter Mondale’s Orwellian column on the virtues of the filibuster and separately reiterated its support of the filibuster in “Senate showdown/Protect the filibuster.” We’re still waiting for the editorial explanation that the Star Tribune acknowledges it owes its readers. Until that time its editorials should themselves be deemed putrid verbiage.


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