April 17, 2013
The World’s Greatest Deliberative Corpse

You ought to see Jay Bookman when he gets really mad!

Senators like to tell each other that their 60-vote rule enhances their individual power, making each of them just a little bit more important and a little bit more necessary to woo. Being important is important to a senator. Being wooed is important. It has become kind of the whole point for many of them.

But in reality, the 60-vote rule renders the Senate as an institution, and each senator individually, almost powerless. As today's vote demonstrates, it produces a body that does nothing and can do nothing. It turns the Senate into a stage for performance art conducted by strutting peacocks and peahens more concerned with getting their dignifed faces onto television than with functioning as a legislative body. And again, they like it that way.

In Senate lore, George Washington is said to have described the upper chamber as a cooling saucer, where the hot passions of the House can be poured and moderated. The metaphor has a nice elegance to it and no doubt appeals to Senate narcissism. But let's be honest. With the 60-vote rule, the Senate is not a cooling saucer. It is a shallow, stagnant, algae-green, mosquito-breeding backwater in which the scum too often rises to the top.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at April 17, 2013 06:28 PM
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