Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 2, 2009

REMEMBER MANUEL MIRANDA?.... A group of prominent conservative activists has assembled to lean on Senate Republicans to filibuster the Sonia Sotomayor nomination. The hypocrisy from the activists is interesting, but I was also struck by the effort's ringleader.

Several years ago, when Senate Democrats were using filibusters to block confirmation votes on several of President George W. Bush's appeals court nominees, some conservatives decried the tactic as unconstitutional.

But now, a coalition of conservative group leaders and opinion leaders has signed a letter calling on Senate Republicans to filibuster President Obama's Supreme Court choice, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. [...]

The letter was organized by the Manuel Miranda, a former adviser on judicial issues to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee. Mr. Miranda now runs the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservatives focused on judges.

Five years ago, Mr. Miranda was an outspoken critic of Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees, which he called "unprecedented, unconstitutional."

That's true, but it's not all Miranda was up to five years ago.

In 2004, Manuel Miranda was at the center of a fairly significant scandal, in which Republican staffers on the Hill accessed Democratic computer servers and stole over 4,000 memos and documents related to judicial nominees. Miranda was directly responsible for the thefts, and left with no options, GOP senators forced Miranda to resign in disgrace. Soon after, Miranda was the subject of a criminal investigation, though no charges were filed.

Asked to explain his actions, Miranda once famously said, "You have no ethical duty to your opposition."

A few years later, the Bush administration hired Miranda to serve as "director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq," where he was responsible for "giving instruction on democratic principles to Iraqi lawyers and lawmakers." (I wish I were kidding.)

And now, Miranda is organizing opposition to Democratic judicial nominees, demanding the same procedural tactic he once denounced as "unconstitutional." Conservative leaders, instead of keeping Miranda and his past at arm's length, have made him their ringleader.


Update: Greg, who got here first, has more.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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One evening in October, when I was one-third sober,
An' taking home a ‘load' with manly pride;
My poor feet began to stutter, so I lay down in the gutter,
And a pig came up an' lay down by my side;
Then we sang ‘It's all fair weather when good fellows get together,'
Till a lady passing by was heard to say:
‘You can tell a man who "boozes" by the company he chooses'
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

-- Benjamin Hapgood Burt

Posted by: SteveT on June 2, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

gop 2009: two wrongs always make a right !

Posted by: mr. irony on June 2, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

gop 2009: hypocrisy...go f*ck yourself

Posted by: mr. irony on June 2, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

the guy's like newt gringrich's long illustrious career in a nutshell...

Posted by: neill on June 2, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, once you have given up on the very concept of shame, the rest is easy.

Posted by: GMan on June 2, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Dirty Laundry by Don Henley

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something, something I can use
People love it when you lose, they love dirty laundry

Well, I could've been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em all around

Posted by: FRP on June 2, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative leaders, instead of keeping Miranda and his past at arm's length, have made him their ringleader.


I would expect nothing less from the self proclaimed "moral majority", Christain party.

Posted by: oh my on June 2, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

As pointed out by John Dean and others, this brand of conservative has no conscience, and no ability to reflect on their own behavior. The ends justify any means, lying, stealing, torture and killing of innocent people are all acceptable when your cause is "right".

Posted by: marc on June 2, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

"..., where he was responsible for "giving instruction on democratic principles to Iraqi lawyers and lawmakers."

Well, as long as he told them that 'You have no ethical duty to your opposition' stopped short of kidnapping or shooting the opposition, he probably staid well within the Republican play book.

Posted by: SRW1 on June 2, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

This is right out of the GOP playbook - find someone of the same race to criticize a democratic nominee. You can't call a Latino a bigot about other Latinos. That's why they elected Michale Steele, to deflect complaints that GOP criticisms of Obama are racist.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on June 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Consistent memes of the GOP:
1) Project your pathologies on your opposition.
2) Objective always justifies means.

Posted by: Chopin on June 2, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

This is good news! There's no reason why even one Hispanic voter should stay in the Rethuglican party. Let's seal the deal. And if the Dums have balls, they can always use the nuclear option and get rid of that pesky filibuster threat. The Rethuglicans showed them how that could be done. (But first, I think they should spew anti-Hispanic rhetoric for awhile before it's shut down).

Posted by: Frak on June 2, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK


Those same people Big Lied the nation into unleashing war. We should be way past calling them shameless.

Posted by: JL on June 2, 2009 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft to Iraqi lawyers and lawmakers.

"And now we explain how to ratfuck your opponents."

Posted by: bbbar on June 2, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I find it inteesting that liberals who use these tactics are now calling conservatives shameless for using the same tactics. So conservatives are not allowed to play by the same rules liberals use. Wow!! Talk about shameless

Posted by: Ron on June 2, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

It's about the letter of the Constitution, stupid.

Not about pointing fingers about GOP hypocrisy, or whatever.

I don't give a rat's patootie if this SCOTUS nominee is black, brown, pink or polka-dotted. I don't give a sh#t whether she hails from Bumf*ck, Nebraska or San Juan. I don't care about her personal sob-story; mine could match hers or better, except I don't speak Spanish.

The point is that this creature is not interested in upholding the oath she has already sworn to administer justice blindly or to uphold the Constitution. With 60% of her decisions already having been overturned by SCOTUS, what I see is incompetence.

So get your liberal, partisan heads out of your collective ar.ses and start arguing the real issues, instead of preaching your typical blind hatred of the political opposition.

Posted by: elephant4life on June 2, 2009 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with your story, Steve, is your facts. Or at least the lack of attention to them. If you had read our letter that sparked your interest you would find that we are calling for a great debate on the issues that define and divide us as a nation, and not an obstructive "Democratic" filibuster, which I continue to view as extra-constitutional if not unconstitutional. In your news-telling, you also failed to point out that I led, and most of the 120 leaders in the Third Branch Conference, agreed with, the opposition to Harriet Miers - an act of independence from party leadership that I doubt could ever be mirrored by the Left. I am not opposed to Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Barring the unforeseeable, she will be confirmed because elections have consequences. I am for an ample debate so that Americans understand those consequences. Because I doubt that when they voted for President Obama and some senate candidates, they understood that they were voting for judges who would rewrite the Constitution based on emtathies and biases rooted in their own experiences, rather than the text.

Posted by: Manuel Miranda on June 9, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Silly, Manny. Anyone who says their personal experiences don't affect their world views or their actions is a machine. Judges' decisons are, in effect, "legislating from the bench," because they review laws for their unconstitutionality. If judgments from a lower court are found to be unconstitutional, they are reversed, thus changing the legislation on the state level. DUH. Harriet Miers, while a bosom buddy of Bush and a true believer in his intelligence, had no experience as a judge. I wasn't disgusted at all about her saying that maybe a wise, Latina woman might bring something new to the Bench. I agreed with it! You conservatives are so easily frightened! Don't you realize that the nature of life is that things change and evolve (hopefully not de-volve) and when one administration bollockses things up, people want to try something new. Unless they live in a dictatorship, then the ones in power just have to keep clamping down and lying and frightening the people more....gotcha, old skin "Republics".

Posted by: Lucia on June 13, 2009 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

I meant to say when Sotomayor mentioned a wise Latina woman, not Meir. I looked up the name Sotomayor and it means something like "old grove."

Posted by: Lucia on June 13, 2009 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK



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