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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Robert Byrd's absurd Hitler analogy may be compared to Rick Santorum's intemporate nuclear rhetoric

Like Santorum, Byrd named Hitler when discussing the nuclear option. A difference is that Byrd simply argued, in the abstract, that deliberative bodies can establish dictatorial power by a vote, while Santorum explicitely compared his estemed Democratic colleagues to Hitler. Byrd has also compared the possible action of the US senate to the institutional suicide of the Roman senate violating Richardius Goodwinius's law by implicitly comparing Bush to Augustus (a very offensive analogy to Romans).

Byrd might be held to have simply noted that a vote to fundamentally change the rules of a deliberative body is a very dangerous thing. However, he added details (which I'm not sure they are even accurate) which show his analogy is totally absurd. Byrd said (via Digby)

But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler’s dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that “Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact.” And he succeeded.

"Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal."

And that is what the nuclear option seeks to do to Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

Now this would be an arguable analogy if Frist were proposing to change the filibuster rule by the current procedure which requires a two thirds m,ajority to chande a rule. However, Frist aims to change the rule by a simple majority by claiming falsely and dishonestly that he believes that the current rule is unconstitutional, asking Cheney to agree, and foreclosing debate on the matter of constitutional interpretation even though the right to such debate is guaranteed by the current rule.

It is totally unfair to compare this procedure based on blatant lies and on violation of existing rules to the enabling bill, which was certainly legitimately passed according to the rules of the Reichstag under the Weimar constitution.

Byrd must aopologise to Frist for understating his audacity, determination and can-do focus on results.

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