For those of you unfamiliar with S.C. Sen. Phil Leventis, don’t waste your time.
The aging liberal – who isn’t running for reelection this year - fancies himself as some sort of latter day “Mr. Smith Goes to Columbia,” but the truth is he’s nothing but a self-righteous status quo blowhard who has spent decades perpetuating the Palmetto State’s chronic mediocrity.
“Irascible, vindictive and hopelessly beholden to our state’s ever-expanding network of government-funded special interests,” is how we recently described this marginally-refined old coot, who has served in the Senate for the last thirty-one years.
“We’re hopeful that the door to the Senate chamber doesn’t whack him on his pompous ass as he leaves,” we concluded.
Anyway, in what will likely be Leventis’ swan song, he’s decided to hold the S.C. Senate hostage over Gov. Nikki Haley’s controversial selection of Catherine Templeton to lead the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – in essence grinding the gears of the state’s so-called “deliberative body” to a halt.
Don’t get us wrong … it’s not like the S.C. Senate accomplishes all that much when its gears are moving. In fact, there’s a case to be made that delays like this are beneficial to the taxpayers.
And for the record, we think Templeton is the wrong choice for this agency – as we have said bluntly and repeatedly. Of course we’ve also pointed out that the State Senate’s role in this process is to advise and consent – not block a nominee for political reasons.
“Catherine Templeton is an unqualified candidate selected by a bunch of mindless stooges who were appointed to their posts by a corrupt governor,” we wrote recently. “Still, that doesn’t mean it is the State Senate’s prerogative to reject her nomination – not unless they uncover legitimate grounds to do.”
So far they haven’t uncovered any such grounds … which is why a Senate panel confirmed her nomination earlier this month.
The accountability for Haley’s appointees – and the significant damage they are doing to the state’s economy and environment at this very agency – rests with voters.
Also, South Carolina’s filibuster rules are for sissies.
Unlike the U.S. Senate, which requires that filibustering members hold the floor continuously and remain standing during their monologues – the State Senate permits them the opportunity to rest and refresh.
For example, the S.C. Senate adjourned Wednesday with Leventis still holding the floor.
The late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond – who once held the floor of the U.S. Senate for 24 hours and 18 minutes consecutively – would no doubt scoff at such rules.
Anyway, while we’d love to see Haley’s administration receive (another) body blow in the form of a failed confirmation, we don’t believe it is the Senate’s prerogative to do that. It’s certainly not Leventis’ individual prerogative – which is why we suspect that there will be sufficient votes to invoke cloture on debate (i.e. sitting Leventis down) sooner rather than later.
We support such a cloture vote … after all, Senators should get busy passing important legislation – including a recall amendment which lets voters more directly hold the executive branch accountable for its actions and appointments.
Also, more than perhaps any other lawmaker in Columbia, Leventis needs to enjoy a nice tall glass of “shut the f*ck up.”
Finally … if you want to see an example of a principled (albeit fictitious) filibuster, pick up season two of The West Wing and look for an episode entitled “The Stackhouse Filibuster.”
UPDATE: As anticipated, the man hater brigade led by former S.C. Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Floyd is seething with impotent rage at the “Phil LeBuster.” In fact, Floyd’s website has put out a press release condemning the Senator as “a Troglodyte,” which it defines as “a person with outmoded, caveman-like views.”