Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Biting Off More Than They Can Chew

It may have taken a few days, but people finally seem to be getting back into the swing of things; back to work, back to school, and back into everyday life. For those of us who keep our collective eyes on those in positions of power, we're almost not sure which way to look today, especially with all of the Senators and Congressfolk returning to Washington, DC.

In case you hadn't heard, today is the kinda-sorta-maybe first day of the 112th Congress.

Today isn't really the first day of work in the U.S. Senate, because the majority Democratic leaders want to use Senate rules to give themselves more time to internally debate changing the filibuster rule. All things considered, if there was any point in time that Senators from any party should and could change the rules of how the filibuster is used - and too often these days, abused - now would be that time.

The proposals that have been put forth to modify the filibuster are relatively simple; they would make the filibuster actually work like it has on TV and in the movies for years. Meaning that the Senator that wanted to filibuster would actually have to stand there, talking, for hours on end. Further, there would HAVE to be a minimum number of Senators present (also known as a quorum) for a filibuster to be able to continue.

Unsurprisingly, Senate Democrats are having a hard time finding the courage to do the right thing - although we desperately hope that they do go through with it.

Republicans on Capitol Hill aren't faring much better in the "Things not to sink one's teeth into" category.

Not only has the Republican leadership in the House had its bluff called on the silly stunt of reading the Constitution before the legislative session begins, but they've now been cowed into allowing Democrats to join in the reading. What's more, Speaker-elect Boehner has proposed new rules in the House which would actually weaken his power, and force the Republican majority in the House to share more power with their Democratic counterparts. Regardless of whether we think both of those maneuvers are wise (and we think they are), these moves by Republican House leadership have the  ultra-conservatives and tea partiers shocked as though they stuck their tongues into an electrical outlet.

As members of the media, we acknowledge that many of our colleagues sometimes seem to find a sick pleasure in rooting for the fighting and acrimonious behavior in Washington to continue. It gives them plenty to write and publish and broadcast about, and gives them some kind of odd job security.

However, if the actions of both parties - so far - in 2011 continue like this, we have a feeling that it won't be the parties that will have shown they they bit off more than they could chew.

It will be the partisans who've been hoping for all-out political warfare that may not happen after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment