Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Senate's Mexican Stand-Off

There are two basic models of political observers. The first and most numerous type of observer follows politics the same way a sports fan follows their favorite team. A passionate rooting interest develops for one side or another and, in the end, everything gets measured by wins and loses, at the ballot box, in congress, in the courts, etc.

The second type of observer enjoys following politics because it provides great theater. They enjoy the shifting cast of characters, and the almost ritual emergence of individuals who step forward to play the roles of hero or villain. For such a person the wins and loses are less important as things in themselves, and more important as plot points for the characters we know in an ongoing saga. And, like any adventure film buff, these types of observers live for huge set pieces, those once-in-a-lifetime moments of high drama that put the political junkies on the edge of their seats.

My own makeup is 90% the second type and 10% the first. This election when many pundits bemoaned a coming "constitutional crisis" if the electoral college count ended in a tie, I was rooting for that to happen. As political high drama little would beat that. I was fascinated by the Clinton impeachment proceedings, something I'd never seen before and may never see again in my lifetime. I even long for one of the political parties to have a "brokered" convention, where the long dead days of "smoke filled back rooms" could be revisited.

So when I read stories such as, Parties gird for epic judicial battle, I react to them a little different then some.

Senator Specter even signaled he was open to the "nuclear option" to block Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees. "If a rule change is necessary to avoid filibusters, there are relevant recent precedents to secure rule changes with 51 votes," he said at a press conference last month.

Democrats say this move could shut down the Senate. "There would be a hellish price to pay by going that route," says a senior Democratic aide. "Ninety-five percent of how the Senate operates is by unanimous consent. Every mid-level assistant in every department of government that now passes by unanimous consent would suddenly require debate and votes."

When I read of Democrats preparing to answer the Republican's "Nuclear Option" gun with their own "Unanimous Consent" gun I immediately think, "Ooo! The Democrats know their Quentin Tarentino!"

Pass the popcorn.

1 comment:

David Leftwich said...

Mr. Smith meets Mr. Pink.

"If I have to tell you again to back off, you and me gonna go round and round."