In case you missed it, the biggest story in Washington this week was the advent of a powerhouse player in the United States Senate.

Why were Harry Reid and his Sancho Panza so angry, to the point of throwing adult-sized temper tantrums?

They had been had. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quietly outflanked the Majority Leader and his minion with a maneuver of sublime adroitness. As the world anticipated the advertised spectacle of George Bush receiving his comeuppance at the hands of the newly crowned emperors of the world's greatest deliberative body, something funny happened on the way to the forum.

The Plan.

The Democratic-controlled Senate, with the help of several celebrated Republican defectors, contrived to move a non-binding resolution chastising the President for his general ineptitude and, specifically, castigating the troop surge he and his generals are implementing.

What Really Happened?

McConnell insisted that a statement of this magnitude would require a 60-vote threshold (fairly commonplace in the modern Senate). He also insisted that the Upper Chamber consider a minority-backed non-binding resolution affirming the Senate's intention to fund the war regardless of the non-binding resolution disavowing the troop increase.

The problem for Harry Reid?

The non-binding resolution attacking the President likely did not have sixty votes. The non-binding resolution affirming funding likely had a comfortable excess of sixty votes. So, instead of a public spanking of the President, Leader Reid was likely to preside over a public endorsement and major victory for the President. Reid was forced to pull the plug on the debate.

No wonder Reid and Dick Durbin were so red in the face. Even if you did not read this story in the mainstream media, make no mistake, McConnell made his bones this week, even while maintaining his signature gracious smile and temperate tone. He may not be Everett Dirksen (or he may be), but he is head-and-shoulders above our recent congressional leadership. He will be fun to watch in the years to come.