Politico ignores conservatives' lame-duck hypocrisy

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Politico's Jonathan Martin writes up the Right's fear-mongering about a potential lame-duck session of Congress this fall, and does a good enough job of noting that it is unlikely that Democrats would "come up with a 60-vote majority in the Senate on the sort of hot-button bills now being used to galvanize conservative constituencies" during such a session.

But Martin didn't so much as hint at the fact that many of the conservatives currently insisting that it is wildly inappropriate to take up controversial measures during a lame-duck session are more than a little hypocritical. For example, Martin prominently quotes a spokesperson for House Minority Leader John Boehner insisting Democrats should rule out a "a 'sour grapes' lame-duck session." But Martin didn't mention that John Boehner voted to impeach a sitting Democratic president during a lame-duck session following an election in which the Republicans lost seats in part because of public disgust over GOP efforts to impeach the president. (Nor did Martin note that Boehner's spokesperson apparently doesn't know what "sour grapes" means.)

That's kind of a big one, don't you think? The Republican leader currently running around denouncing Democrats for (theoretically) using a lame-duck session to pursue controversial goals himself cast a deeply controversial vote to impeach President Clinton during a GOP-controlled lame duck session. You don't get much more hypocritical than that -- but Martin didn't mention it. Nor did he mention that Charles Krauthammer, who Martin noted has "sounded the alarm" about a lame duck session, urged the lame-duck House to impeach Clinton in 1998.

UPDATE: Here's a USA Today article from November 13, 2006, just days after Democrats won control of both houses of Congress:

A lame-duck Congress, including the so-called "living dead" who were defeated for re-election, opened today with an ambitious agenda that includes a showdown over President Bush's nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Although the Democrats take charge of both houses of the new Congress starting in January, the Republicans maintain control of the Senate and the House of Representatives until the lame-duck session expires in December.

This year's session could run well into December as Congress takes up a long list of unfinished business: nine spending bills; extending already-expired tax breaks; approving trade pacts with Vietnam and Peru; bioterrorism legislation; and a measure giving doctors a reprieve from a scheduled cut in Medicare payments.

But a critical test of wills between the Democrats' rising power and the White House will come over the Bolton nomination.

Bush last week also called on the lame-duck Congress to pass a controversial warrantless domestic wiretapping bill known as the Terrorists Surveillance Act. But that appears dead because of strong opposition by Democrats.

And a December 6, 2006 Associated Press article:

House Republicans abruptly pulled from floor action Tuesday a bill to open a large area of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling after it became clear the legislation lacked the two-thirds vote needed for passage.

"The House will revisit the offshore drilling legislation again at some point before the end of this week, though details on the mechanics of how the measure will be considered have yet to be decided," Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner, said in a statement.

The drilling bill is one of a string of measures House GOP leaders have readied for this week's "lame-duck" session under an expedited procedure that bars amendments, but also requires a two-thirds vote for approval.

Why would any journalist report conservatives' anti-lame-duck-session stance without checking to see what they did in 2006?

Charles Krauthammer, Jonathan Martin
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