Rush Limbaugh has frequently struggled to understand the nuances of the Senate and the “nuclear option.” The radio host recently argued, for example, that majority-rule in the Senate would mean President Obama “gets to play dictator” with judicial nominees, which really doesn’t make any sense.
But today, as Media Matters discovered, Limbaugh took his confusion to a whole new level.
“Let’s forget the Senate for a minute. Let’s say, let’s take 10 people in a room and they’re a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. OK? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes, of the 10, to change the rule. Every now and then, some lunatic in the group proposes to change the rule to allow women to be raped. But they never were able to get six votes for it. There were always the four women voting against it and they always found two guys.“Well, the guy that kept proposing that women be raped finally got tired of it, and he was in the majority and he was one that [said], ‘You know what? We’re going to change the rule. Now all we need is five.” And well, ‘you can’t do that.’ ‘Yes we are. We’re the majority. We’re changing the rule.’ And then they vote. Can the women be raped? Well, all it would take then is half of the room. You can change the rule to say three. You can change the rule to say three people want it, it’s going to happen. There’s no rule. When the majority can change the rules there aren’t any.”
OK, let’s calmly review some basic truths that are worth remembering.
First, while Limbaugh now believes only a “lunatic” would propose changing Senate rules on a majority vote, Limbaugh believed the exact opposite when the Senate was controlled by Republicans in the Bush era.
Second, as a factual matter, before this week, the Senate changed the chamber’s rules with a simple majority-rule vote 18 times. It’s unusual, but it’s not that unusual. Besides, in this case, the change only restored the previous norm that existed for generations.
And finally, if you’re the type of person who feels comfortable comparing Senate confirmation votes on non-controversial judicial nominees to rape, perhaps communicating regularly with the public is a poor career choice.