It’s Time to Call a Filibuster a Filibuster

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It looks like Chuck Hagel is finally going to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Jonathan Bernstein addresses the journalistic conundrum involved in this:

The trick for reporters is how to write about and talk about what’s happened.

Was there a filibuster?

Yes. Of course.

One more time: requiring 60 is a filibuster. Every Republican supports that standard. There are no Republicans who believe that 60 should never or only rarely be invoked; the only question is whether, in this particular case, any particular case, they will support the filibuster. That there is a filibuster, on everything, is both assumed and institutionalized.

I would really like to see this become a standard part of usage guides on copy desks everywhere. We can tie ourselves in knots forever explaining the technical aspects of “what really happened” and passing it all off as some kind of arcane procedural issue. It’s time to stop it. If the minority party demands a 60-vote margin to pass something, they’re conducting a filibuster. In the modern Senate, that’s the most sensible way of describing it, and it’s the one most comprehensible to the average reader. It’s long past time to adopt this as the standard way of describing these things.

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