Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – A little bit of history here about the filibuster, it goes all the way back to the 1840s. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: A little bit of history here about the filibuster, it goes all the way back to the 1840s.
In 1841 Senator Henry Clay proposed a bank bill …
Mike: Now, why is Henry Clay significant? Young Eric, let’s test your knowledge. What state was Henry Clay from?
Eric: South Carolina? Virginia? South Carolina, I’m sticking with that, the Carolina area.
Mike: He was from Kentucky. Oh, the irony of it all. A senator from Kentucky actually is in on the creation of the filibuster that a senator from Kentucky yesterday used to try and get the attention of his fellow citizens.
In 1841 Senator Henry Clay proposed a bank bill that was opposed by Senator John C. Calhoun who began a lengthy, seemingly unending, rebuttal. Calhoun basically created the modern filibuster. Clay threatened to change the Senate rules in order to close debate on the issue. Clay’s colleague, Thomas Hart Benton, rebuked Clay and accused him of trying to stifle the Senate’s right to unlimited debate.
Through the next few turbulent decades and into the 1960’s the filibuster was used often by Southern Democrats to block civil rights legislation.
President Woodrow Wilson suggested that some limits be placed on the unlimited debate concept. In 1917 the Senate adopted Senate Rule 22, now known as the “cloture” rule. The new Rule 22 provided the mechanism to close out debate on a legislative bill and bring the bill up for a vote if cloture was approved by 67% of the Senate.
Senator Huey Long, the fiery and colorful senator from Louisiana, made the filibuster famous between 1932 and 1935 when he utilized it several times to stall legislation that he considered unfair to the poor. Long frustrated his opponents and entertained the Senate gallery by reading Shakespeare, reciting shrimp and oyster recipes and talking about “pot-likkers.” An amendment to Senate Rule 19 later required that debate on legislation be germane to the issue being debated.
On June 12, 1935, Senator Long engaged in his most famous filibuster. A bill was before the Senate to eliminate the provision for the Senate to confirm senior National Recovery Act employees. Senator Long opposed the bill because he didn’t want his political adversaries in Louisiana to obtain lucrative N.R.A. jobs. Senator Long spoke for 15 hours and 30 minutes running well into the evening and early morning hours with senators dozing at their desks. Long read and analyzed each section of the Constitution, a document which he claimed had become “ancient and forgotten lore” under President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
After the reading of the Constitution Senator Long offered to give advice to the remaining senators on any subject of their choosing. No senator took Long up on his offer but the gallery patrons began sending notes to the floor for Senator Long to extemporize on. That kept Long going into the early hours of the morning. At 4 a.m. Long yielded the floor in order to use the restroom and his proposal was defeated.
Mike: See, the potty break is what gets you. This is when you need to have one of these things they sell around Mardi Gras time here in New Orleans. This is a family-friendly show, so I’m not going to describe the device to you, but I’ll tell you what it’s called. It’s called the “sneaky leaker.” You can figure out how it works. How many of you remember the Burt Reynolds movie, what was it? I’m trying to remember now, the early ‘80s. I can describe what happens in the film. Reynolds goes to one of these things they used to do in the 1980s called “est” training. This is where you’d get together with a bunch of losers and you’d all supposedly meditate your problems away. You weren’t allowed to leave the room. One of the things you had to do was you had to hold your body functions. It didn’t matter what it was, if you left the room, the game was over. Burt Reynolds had rigged something up so that he basically had a sneaky leaker.
Eric: Was it Semi-Tough?
Mike: No, I don’t think so. That doesn’t sound right. Anyway, onto the history of the filibuster.
About 9 p.m. on August 28, 1957, Senator Strom Thurmond rose before the Senate and announced, “Mr. President, I rise to speak against the so-called voting rights bill, H.R. 6127.” His own staff had not been informed about Senator Thurmond’s intentions to filibuster the bill, but they knew something was up when they saw Thurmond gathering considerable reading material.
Senator Thurmond had prepared himself for a long filibuster on the Senate floor. Senator Thurmond began his filibuster by reading each state’s election statutes. He later read and discussed an opinion by Chief Justice Taft. He also read and discussed the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and Washington’s Farewell Address.
After 24 hours and 18 minutes, a record that still stands, Senator Thurmond concluded his remarks with, “I expect to vote against the bill.” The bill was defeated.
Mike: So a little bit of the history of the filibuster that was witnessed yesterday by many of you on CSPAN. We have a rundown highlight reel of Senator Paul’s remarks. There are probably some Ted Cruz and others. Ted Cruz, when he came on last night about 9:00 my time, 10:00 Eastern — I stayed up a little late last night to watch some of this — I was just twittering and tweeting away because he was aggravating. I was watching him thinking to myself: Where’s Chuck Barris and the Gong Show hook when you need him? Somebody needed to bang the gong, get the hook, and get him off the stage. It was almost like it was open mic night at the Senate. Much of the debate and much of the stuff that Rand Paul had brought to the fore was legitimate, questions over whether or not an American citizen can be taken out by a drone.
That’s what I wanted to tell you. One thing that was just a bit irritating to watch and maybe a little disappointing at the same time was that the focus seemed to be on the use of a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil, not specifically the killing of an American citizen. This may be a distinction without distinction. I didn’t hear that brought up. That should have been the focus. Let’s say we agree that Obama or the next president can’t use a drone to take out suspected terrorist colluder who just happens to be an American citizen. But he can send the CIA or Janet Reno in there to do it. We can send a hit man in there. He can still order your killing, he just can’t use a drone to effect it. You guys said you didn’t want drones, fine. We use helicopters now. We use F-17s, the new F-35. We use long-range snipers. We use hand grenades, whatever we’ve got to do to actually execute the kill.
End Mike Church Show Transcript