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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chris Matthews and the US Senate

Via Instapundit, via Jammie Wearing Fool, we have an item in The New York Post about President Barak Obama commenting on the slow process of legislating in the United States Congress:
"If this pattern continues, you're going to see an inability on the part of America to deal with big problems in a very competitive world, and other countries are going to start running circles around us.
This is from Columnist Charles Hunt, with a headline "O Rips the American Way"

I don't know Mr Hunt from Adam's Odd Ox, but he is on to something here.  He notes:
What he is saying is that other governments around the world -- those tyrannical states that do not share our respect for the minority -- are better forms of government, better equipped to compete in this modern world.
But what does this have to do with MSNBC Commentator Chris Matthews?

I noted this most recent trend to condemn the procedures of the world's greatest deliberative body first while watching Hardball, the Chris Matthews political commentary show.  About a week ago he had on a member of the House of Representatives and he put to that Member of Congress that the Senate rules, and thus the US Senate, should be changed.  As I recall, the Representative didn't bite.

Changing the US Senate was a dumb idea when Chris Matthews suggested it and it is a dumb idea today. The straight of the United States is not in the fact that the US Senate can act quickly, but in the fact that the US Senate is the saucer in which the hot political ideas of the day can be cooled before the US public drinks of them.
“Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” George Washington supposedly asked Thomas Jefferson one day in trying to explain the new Constitution to him. “To cool it,” said Jefferson. “Even so,” said Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.” 
It isn't like Democratic Party Senators, in years gone by, have not used the threat of a filibuster to slow down or block legislation.  Why else was the final reconciliation from the Civil War so long delayed?

It seems to me the idea of Representative Government is that we have majority rule with minority rights and when the People of the United States who are interested in voting give us a 60/40 split in the US Senate those voters are saying "move forward, but take your time about it".  The votes are there to pass the legislation, but the Senate Leadership needs to pass through all the wickets.

On the other hand, I don't mind Mr Matthews trying to change the rules, but I will be working against him, assiduously.  I would like to note that Mr Matthews' experience on Capital Hill is as a Capital Hill Policeman (don't snicker, Maureen Dowd's Father as a Capital Hill Policeman) and as an aide to the Speaker of the House, Mr Tip O'Neill.

Going back to the Politico item by Roger Simon, he quotes former US Senate Parliamentarian, Mr Bob Dove:
The Senate reflects the problems of the country.  During the Vietnam War and the civil rights revolution that were tearing the country apart, there was not a lot of civility on either issue. Actually, the Senate is more civil today than in the 1960s, because the issues are not as wrenching.
Mr Dove has twin daughters, who served as Senate Pages, one as a Democrat and one as a Republican.  The Republican daughter, Laura, is today the Assistant Secretary for the Senate Minority Party.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  I noticed that The New York Post has found a way to attach a URL when one copies a paragraph out of their story. Below are two of them:

Read more:
Read more:
  From a Politico post by Roger Simon on 9 October 2009.

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