Longtime Democratic Sen. Carl Levin openly mocked those pushing for the so-called "nuclear option" to end GOP filibusters, charging on Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Vice President Biden and even the New York Times have flip-flopped on the issue, crashing their credibility on it.
Noting that liberals banned together in 2005 and 2006 to block former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from ending Democratic filibusters with the same nuclear option procedure, Levin said "now the leaders are in a position of flipping their positions." He added: "I can't just now say, 'OK, now we're in the majority, so now it's OK.'"
Levin is one of the few Democrats who told a closed-door meeting late Monday that he would not support Reid's move, despite his frustration with the GOP.
At a breakfast media roundtable sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, he urged reporters to go back and read the speeches of Reid, Biden and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in which they opposed Frist who was upset with Democratic filibusters of judges appointed by former President George W. Bush.
He held out special criticism for the Grey Lady. The Times today editorialized for the nuclear option, even featuring their editorial on their homepage. "They editorialized strongly against this power grab and destruction of minority rights," Levin said of the paper's past opposition to the nuclear option. "And now, this morning's editorial? It's the opposite. It sounds like our leaders flipping positions," said Levin.
His suggestion: instead of holding presidential nominations when even a "whisper" of opposition is heard, force foes to filibuster. He predicted that most would fail. "Make them filibuster," Levin urged.
Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.