Kamikaze filibuster

Deborah Orin:

THE joke in Republican circles now is that if John Kerry didn't exist, Karl Rove would have to invent him.

Republicans loved 2004 loser Kerry's flop of a filibuster against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito because it had Democrats tearing each other's eyes out — over a fight they couldn't win.

Not only did Kerry lose, he lost big time — just 25 Democrats were willing to join him as the party split apart over Alito, just as it has ripped apart over the Iraq war.

The vote was 72-25 against filibuster, so Team Kerry lost 3-1.

Worse yet, plenty of Democrats who did vote for the filibuster — like New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer — left little doubt that they were livid at Kerry's stunt, since it turned into a dream come true for Bush political guru Rove.

Senate Democrats had already huddled and agreed that a filibuster would be dumb: They lacked the votes — and Americans backed Alito by 2-1, so it could alienate the desperately needed swing voters.

But then Kerry, hobnobbing with hotshots in posh Davos, Switzerland, got his marching orders from The New York Times and the left-wing blog Daily Kos (which can be hard to tell apart these days). Presto: Insta-filibuster, like it or not.

It's the latest example of how Kerry — plus 2000 loser Al Gore and the left wing of the blogosphere — are all yanking the Democratic Party hard to the left, instead of the center (where most of the votes are).

Among those who felt they had to follow Kerry was likely 2008 rival Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) — after all, liberal activists decide Democratic primaries, and Clinton can't afford to alienate that base after voting for the Iraq war. But she clearly wasn't happy — she didn't speak in favor of filibuster on the Senate floor and just issued a rather tame written statement.

Still, the fact that Kerry's filibuster lost by such a huge margin gives Republicans more ammunition to paint Clinton as out-of-the-mainstream, which is just where they want her.


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