Acosta: Let's face it, McConnell would kill the filibuster if he was in control

Is this an apple, a banana, or just plain nuts? At the very least, it’s entirely ignorant of history — and hardly qualifies as “news.” CNN’s Jim Acosta supposedly reports on politics, not engages in strategizing for one side or the other — so why is he advocating that Democrats end the filibuster in the Senate?

And why doesn’t Acosta know Mitch McConnell’s history on this exact situation?

Where does one begin to unravel Acosta’s incoherence in this clip? In the first place, the legislative filibuster has nothing to do with the Supreme Court or presidential appointments. At all. The lack of progress on Democrats’ progressive agenda items isn’t even entirely related to the filibuster either. Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan is failing even in the reconciliation process because it can’t get 50 Senate Democrats to align behind it, for instance.

One has to wonder whether Acosta complained about the legislative filibuster when Democrats made use of it during Trump’s term. Democrats used it hundreds of times to stop Republicans — who had the majority in both chambers for two years — from moving forward on a number of initiatives. That frustrated Donald Trump so much and so often that he began a months-long campaign to pressure Mitch McConnell into nuking the filibuster.

That brings us to Acosta’s “what would Mitch do” question. He should instead recall what Mitch actually did:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is shooting down President Trump’s push for Republicans to change the Senate’s rules for blocking legislation.

Asked if Republicans would nix the 60-vote filibuster to allow legislation to pass by a simple majority, McConnell told reporters, “That will not happen.”

“There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar” on legislation, McConnell said during a weekly press conference. …

McConnell — who pledged last month to keep the filibuster — said the move would “fundamentally change the way the Senate has worked for a very long time. We’re not going to do that.”

The fact that the legislative filibuster exists shows that McConnell kept it in place — even when it would have benefited him and the GOP to end it, at least in the short run. Acosta’s hardly the only historical illiterate who keeps insisting that McConnell would torpedo the filibuster if given half a chance, but most of the rest of them don’t make that argument while reporting on a news program. And Acosta may be the only White House correspondent that managed to miss this months-long feud between a Republican president and a Republican Senate Majority Leader.

Jeff Zucker is presently getting humiliated for his handling of Chris Cuomo, but he deserves some scrutiny over his use of Acosta, too. For a network that likes to preen itself on the ability to discern between apples and bananas, they seem to have trouble recognizing a bad nut.

Update: Glenn Kessler demolished this argument back in March:

On Sept. 15, 2017, Trump tweeted: “With the ridiculous Filibuster Rule in the Senate, Republicans need 60 votes to pass legislation, rather than 51. Can’t get votes, END NOW!”

But McConnell held firm. “It would fundamentally change the way the Senate has worked for a very long time. We’re not going to do that,” he told reporters.

In 2018, McConnell estimated that two-thirds of Senate Republicans would oppose eliminating the legislative filibuster, even though they were in power. “I don’t think the legislative filibuster, which has been around for a long time, is a problem,” he told Politico. “And it does, I think, generate on many occasions kind of a bipartisan solution, and I don’t think that’s always bad for the country.”

Indeed, McConnell had consistently argued against changing the rules when he was in the minority — and then again when he was in the majority.

Kessler didn’t award any Pinocchios to Joaquin Castro at the time, due to the way in which Castro formed his claim. Perhaps he’ll revisit it with Acosta, but Kessler deserves credit for laying out this point months ago. Apparently Acosta didn’t pay any attention then either.