The United States Senate:"the greatest deliberative body in the world," has become the saddest spectacle in America. Nero has nothing on the Senate, we should send fiddles and matches to Senators on both sides of the aisle so they can be properly equipped to preside over the burning of America's hopes and dreams.
Granted that Republican obstructionism and bad faith are much more to blame for frustrating the will of the American people, than Democratic incrementalism and opportunistically cynical deal making; however, some on both sides of the aisle, have cavalierly manipulated the Senate's legislative and procedural process for personal political motives.
Health care reform, financial regulatory reform, energy legislation, environmental legislation and a comprehensive and effective approach to job creation and industrial policy have either been delayed, derailed, diminished, gamed or simply stymied.
The Republican strategy is obvious, obsruct, delay, characterize all Democratic policy proposals as "out of the mainstream" and count on the popular tensions generated by the lack of action in Washington to shift the power balance. Appealing to the Republican's sense of public service in this situation to put principle ahead of party is a useless effort. The Republicans have staked their Party's political future on this obstructionist strategy and will not turn away from this path.
What is curious is the apparent lack of a coherent Democratic Senate Caucus' strategy to counter the Republican intransigence and get the people's business done. Perhaps coherence is an impossibility given the nature of the Senate and the prerogatives of each Senator; however, the American public's perception is of a Senate Majority incapable of agreement or progress on the important issues of the day.
To the average citizen the "inside baseball" aspects of the Senate's process is mystifying and frustrating. The opacity of the process doesn't help the Senate. What gives a Senator the right to put a "hold" on appointments or legislation? The only experience people may have of the filibuster is in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and it doesn't resemble anything going on today. Why do bills have to be reconciled and what does that mean? What is the special process known as "budget reconciliation"? Is seniority more valued than competence? How did the Senate get its work done before in less trying times and how can it get back to work now?
The President said in the State of the Union Address he "cannot 'do it' alone" so the American people are asking how "lone wolf" Senators can "do it" to the President's legislative agenda. How the change we all voted for can be used by and twisted to the benefit of one State, or one Senator's constituency, or one lobbyist or industry group,to the detriment of all Americans.
The Senate Democratic Caucus has an opportunity, right now, to demonstrate cohesion and purporse, by agreeing to reconciliation fixes on HCR sufficient to have the House pass the existing Senate bill. The Democratic Caucus has an opportunity, right now, to create and pass new jobs legislation that will move the economy forward and help working Americans. The Senate Democratic Caucus has an opportunity, right now, to show resolve, tenacity and support for the American people and their President, or pass out the fiddles and light the matches...