Introducing: HackWatch!

Now that we have a party change in the White House, this will be the first time we have an extensive, searchable online archive of punditry and speechifying covering all of the last administration.

It'll be fun to see who does an about face on issues like judicial confirmations, use of the filibuster, executive power, and other issues now that an imperial GOP presidency is likely to be replaced by an imperial Democratic one.

We saw a bit of this in the 1990s, with Republicans and Democrats doing a switch about the Senate’s proper role in the confirmation process, and among Republicans who were critical of President Clinton’s unauthorized wars in the Balkans but then argued for plenary war powers under President Bush.

I’m guessing we’ll see plenty of hackery over the next four, possibly eight years, from both sides, and I’m thinking that it’ll be fun to document it.

To kick things off, the first installment of HackWatch comes courtesy of Cato's Gene Healy.  Your inaugural hack-tastic politico: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Here's Kyl in 2005 (pdf) on the subject of using the Senate filibuster to hold up Supreme Court nominations:

Republicans seek to right a wrong that has undermined 214 years of tradition – wise, carefully thought-out tradition. The fact that the Senate rules theoretically allowed the filibuster of judicial nominations but were never used to that end is an important indicator of what is right, and why the precedent of allowing up-or-down votes is so well established. It is that precedent that has been attacked and which we seek to restore….

My friends argue that Republicans may want to filibuster a future Democratic President’s nominees. To that I say, I don’t think so, and even if true, I’m willing to give up that tool. It was never a power we thought we had in the past, and it is not one likely to be used in the future. I know some insist that we will someday want to block Democrat judges by filibuster. But I know my colleagues. I have heard them speak passionately, publicly and privately, about the injustice done to filibustered nominees. I think it highly unlikely that they will shift their views simply because the political worm has turned.

Here's Jon Kyl's warning to President-Elect Obama last month:

Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal.

Kyl, Arizona’s junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said.

“He believes in justices that have empathy,” said Kyl, speaking at a Federalist Society meeting in Phoenix. The attorneys group promotes conservative legal principles.

Kyl said if Obama goes with empathetic judges who do not base their decisions on the rule of law and legal precedents but instead the factors in each case, he would try to block those picks via filibuster.

Kyl has set the bar pretty high, here.  So high, in fact, that I'm having a hard time envisioning how anyone could top him.  There's really no wiggle room in those two statements.  For that, I'm giving him a 10 out of 10 on the somewhat-arbitrary "Hackery Index."

If you see an example of a pundit, politician, major blogger, or other Beltway creature who’s done a 180 on this or another issue, please send it to us, with links, and “HackWatch” in the subject line.

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  • Paul||

    Change You Can Believe In...from Republicans.

  • ||

    Ah, how the mighty have fallen...er something like that. Does this really surprise anyone?

  • ||

    If you see an example of a pundit, politician, major blogger, or other Beltway creature who's done a 180 on this or another issue, please send it to us, with links, and "HackWatch" in the subject line.

    I assume the plethora of Mitt Romney examples are disqualified.

  • Lefiti||

    Watching loony libertarian zealots twist market failures into market-triumph pretzels is enough hack watch for me.

  • ||

    If you see an example of a pundit, politician, major blogger, or other Beltway creature who's done a 180 on this or another issue, please send it to us, with links, and "HackWatch" in the subject line.

    Good lord man. Do you want to crash the internet? We're going to see right and left wingers spin so much, we could stop importing oil if we hooked them up to generators.

  • Bingo||

    Is there any link between libertarianism and being a masochist? I'm absolutely thrilled at the prospects of watching these bastards lie through their teeth for the next few years.

    Oh yes DC, give me more, hit me harder with your utter disregard for principles and honesty!

  • ||

    Is there any link between libertarianism and being a masochist? I'm absolutely thrilled at the prospects of watching these bastards lie through their teeth for the next few years.



    Considering how much this kind of thing makes me want to bash my head against a wall, my opinion is "yes, yes there is a link".

  • Elemenope||

    Libertarians are self-hating masochists.

    Ironically, this makes Libertarians very happy people, generally speaking.

  • Lefiti||

    You're all crazy! Waaaaaaa! Validate me!

  • Lefiti||

    That last comment was not me.

  • Leftiti||

    The following comment was me. Also, the last one was me, but I was lying in it.

  • Leftiti||

    The previous comment was a lie. Also, this comment is a lie.

  • ||

    Better give him a 9, Mr. Balko. What would you give him if, in addition to contracdicting himself, he attempted to justify his current position -- an 11?

  • thoreau||

    11 should be reserved for hacks who just have that extra special something. If you don't have 11, then when you reach 10 there's no more hackitude left to go for. But if you have 11, then when the hack shows that extra bit of hackitude, you have somewhere to go.

  • ||


    Bingo | December 9, 2008, 8:26pm | #

    Is there any link between libertarianism and being a masochist?



    Drink?


    I'm absolutely thrilled at the prospects of watching these bastards lie through their teeth for the next few years.



    What thrills me is the prospect of throwing their own words back at them and watching them squirm and equivocate.

  • ||

    What thrills me is the prospect of throwing their own words back at them and watching them squirm and equivocate.

    And thus the purpose of the memory-hole.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    "I think the United States must be humble," Bush said during a televised presidential debate last October (2000). "We must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course."

  • Heinrick||

    Time to call out the party van.

  • ||

    Kyl. Yet another GOP Arizona senator flip-flopping and twisting himself into a pretzel depending upon the political winds.

  • VM||

    thoreau:

    why not just make 10 "hackier".

    We should ask Hak (Seward/ JB/ GG/ JB/ the M, Croesus etc etc etc) about his input on the eponymous rating scale!

    [keed keed]

    Lt A_R: awesome find.

  • ||

    Hackery is like IQ; we'll have to readjust the norm over time. Today's 10 may become tomorrow's gentlemen's 6.

  • Egosumabbas||

    "Hackery is like IQ; we'll have to readjust the norm over time. Today's 10 may become tomorrow's gentlemen's 6."

    Ah, kinda like the difference between warp drive factors in TOS and TNG?

  • ||

    Kyl gets extra hack points for this, because there's no way the Republicans will ever be able to sustain a filibuster against a judicial nominee.

    Specter, Snowe, Collins can be counted on to cross the aisle on cloture votes for judicial nominees being filibustered by the "Plessy vs. Fergusen" dogwhistle crowd.

    +1 for hollow posing.

  • ||

    Kyl isn't really contradicting himself, you know. He said he would be willing to give up the right to filibuster future Dem nominess if Dems gave up the right to filibuster Rep nominees. The Dems didn't, so why should he?

    He indicates in his first statement that it would be unprecedented to threaten a filibuster of judicial nominees. Well, the precedent has been set, by the Dems. So, no contradiction there, either.

    There will be far better examples than this, I am sure.

  • ||

    The fact that the Senate rules theoretically allowed the filibuster of judicial nominations but were never used to that end is an important indicator of what is right, and why the precedent of allowing up-or-down votes is so well established.

    I guess it's not "right" any more, eh RC? Because that's not just a statement about "unprecedented," but about what's "right."

    Hack.

  • ||

    Its still basically an argument from precedent, joe. The Dems reset the precedent; why shouldn't they live with the consequences.

    I'll grant you that his reference to "right" raises this from a case of total non-hackery to a case of mild hackery, but in context, I would say maybe a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.

    Really, his most hack-tastic statement is:

    I think it highly unlikely that they will shift their views simply because the political worm has turned.

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