Comments on the all-night Senate debate over the Reed-Levin amendment; Tuesday, PM:

Admittedly, I have argued this case both ways.

Did the Founders intend the Senate to be the "saucer that cooled the dangerously hot liquid of American democracy"? Or is the procedural trump card that requires sixty votes to move legislation an egregious violation of the clear intention of the constitutional framers?


A sixty-vote threshold is not in the Constitution. And I have bemoaned the time-tested obstructionist tool employed periodically by the minority to thwart the majority. On the other hand, the Senate rules and more than a century-and-a-half of tradition sanction the procedure. The Senate moves deliberately and by consensus in accord with the spirit of the original intent of the founding generation.

All too often, we are strict constructionists when it fits in with our legislative goals, and we are for common-sense interpretations and extrapolations of the Constitution when it suits our political interests. We are a slippery species.

But the bottom line is that the sixty-vote hurdle is what it is--and it here to stay.

Currently Speaking: Bob Menendez is a small man. Rookie senators so often overact trying to live up to the traditions of Webster and Clay. Menendez falls into that trap and is embarrassingly not ready for prime time tonight. In truth, I am not overly optimistic that he will ever grow into his role.

UPDATE: More random observations...

1. Is this a Democratic Party publicity stunt or a serious debate concerning the most important national decision of our time?


2. Vive C-SPAN2!

3. Kudos to Majority Leader Harry Reid for keeping these folks on the floor all night (so far--1:00 EDT). They ought to be listening to one another. Of course, that is not why the Majority Leader is pursuing this strategy. Nor am I confident that anybody will actually listen to the other side.

Having said that, the late Republican majority never had the grit to make the Democratic filibusters pay the price of inconvenience. Give Reid some credit for his absence of sympathy for the sleeping and work habits of his fellow senators.