Thursday, May 12, 2005

CBS Twisted Kenneth Starr's Filibuster Comments

I have always had mixed feelings about Kenneth Starr. On the one hand, I felt that his handling of the Whitewater "scandal" was...well...scandalous."

On the other hand, I have always found his comments on constitutional law to be creative, insightful and assertively independent from whatever "everyone else" is saying. It is a shame that fate did not allow him a place on the US Supreme Court.

In a widely quoted news story released by CBS on May 10, an interview with Starr was reported as follows:

Many conservatives consider the fight over judges their political Armageddon, but conservative icon and former federal judge Ken Starr says it has gotten out of control, reports CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger.

"The confirmation process has not only become ugly and has become a shouting match," he said. "This is a radical, radical departure from our history and our traditions and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government."

Starr, who prosecuted the Monica Lewinsky case against President Clinton, said the Republican plan to end the filibuster may be unwise.

"It may prove to have the kind of long term boomerang effect damage on the institution of the Senate that thoughtful senators may come to regret," he said.

Contrast this with what Dr. Starr told Ramesh Ponnuru at the National Review Online yesterday:

"In the piece that I have now seen, and which I gather is being lavishly quoted, CBS employed two snippets. The 'radical departure' snippet was specifically addressed -- although this is not evidenced whatever from the clip -- to the practice of invoking judicial philosophy as a grounds for voting against a qualified nominee of integrity and experience. I said in sharp language that that practice was wrong. I contrasted the current practice . . . with what occurred during Ruth Ginsburg's nomination process, as numerous Republicans voted (rightly) to confirm a former ACLU staff lawyer. They disagreed with her positions as a lawyer, but they voted (again, rightly) to confirm her. Why? Because elections, like ideas, have consequences. . . . In the interview, I did indeed suggest, and have suggested elsewhere, that caution and prudence be exercised (Burkean that I am) in shifting/modifying rules (that's the second snippet), but I likewise made clear that the 'filibuster' represents
an entirely new use (and misuse) of a venerable tradition. . . .

"[O]ur friends are way off base in assuming that the CBS snippets, as used, represent (a) my views, or (b) what I in fact said."

I can't say that this does not make CBS resemble a very reliable news source.

Considering that Starr was the only "conservative" they could find who they could quote in such a way as to make it appear that they believed things were "out of control;" and considering that Starr asserts that he said no such thing and was, instead, selectively quoted out of context to support that presumption when in fact he had said the exact opposite, I would therefore conclude that:

....There does not seem to be a great deal of conservative dissention on the subject of the filibuster.

HT: Captain Ed