Supporters of George W. Bush are lambasting Sen. John Kerry for a threatened filibuster against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. But 15 years ago, their attitude was different as backers of George H.W. Bush wielded the filibuster to block a probe into Republican secret dealings with Iran that could have doomed the Bush Dynasty.
In 1991, the Democratic-controlled Senate was planning an investigation into whether Republicans had conducted secret negotiations with Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist regime during the 1980 campaign, when Jimmy Carter was still President and Iran was holding 52 Americans hostage.
The unresolved hostage crisis destroyed Carter’s reelection hopes and gave an important boost to Ronald Reagan when the hostages were released on Jan. 20, 1981, immediately after he was sworn in as President and George H.W. Bush became Vice President.
A decade after those events, some Democrats wanted to get to the bottom of recurring allegations that George Bush Sr., a former CIA director, had joined clandestine negotiations with Iran in fall 1980 that may have delayed release of the hostages for political gain, what was called the “October Surprise” mystery.
Meanwhile, Republicans were worried that a full-scale October Surprise investigation might implicate Bush in near-treasonous talks with an enemy state and devastate his 1992 reelection campaign. Confirmation of the allegations also would have eviscerated the legitimacy of the Reagan-Bush era.
So, in November 1991, Republican leaders used the filibuster to block funding for the investigation. The Democrats mustered 51 votes – a majority – but fell short of the 60 votes needed for cloture. A fully funded investigation was prevented.
For 25 years, since Dubya's CIA daddy secretly negotiated with Iran, the Bush family has established and expanded its duplicitous reputation as the true Axis of Evil.