The Greatest Deliberative Body

Some weeks ago I had the pleasure of initiating a dialogue with a columnist over at It’s a great site, a good source of thorough and non-partisan news on the war in Iraq, and Tracey, the columnist I mentioned, is a wonderful person.

With her son currently stationed in Iraq, over the past few weeks we’ve gotten to know each other, and in many ways listening to her talk about him reminds me a bit of me and my mom. The mother ever vigilant and hopeful and worrying, the son kind of shrugging off the praise and worry and extolling of pride. There’s very much an “Aw, geez, ma,” quality to it that I think you will find in a lot of military families.

That’s one thing about the military; to many of us, it’s just a job.

So, since then, I’ve taken to stopping by Iraqslogger pretty frequently to check out the goods, and Tracey’s latest column on the overnighter the Senate pulled in regards to the Defense bill was dead on.

Watching Senators standing at the podium debating the issue of Iraq, the seats behind them were usually empty. The Levin-Reed amendment was important enough to stop it from coming to a vote, but apparently the war is not important enough for them to stay in the Senate all night searching for common ground. No, they just come in when it is their turn to speak or they need to vote.

Our soldiers often have sleepless nights on the battlefield. They don’t they the option of going back to an office. There are no showers, no comforts for their restlessness. Many mothers can’t sleep for worrying about their soldiers, or mourning their soldiers. Would it be too much to ask that Congress stay awake, listen to each other, work together until they find a solution for the situation in Iraq?

It’s a great piece and definitely worth your time. But even further, it really brings into question the practices of the “Greatest Deliberative Body In The World”.

The biggest question is, do they even debate anymore?

Since I don’t have cable, and even if I did my schedule at the time would not have allowed me to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the debacle, most accounts seem to mesh pretty well. The portrait painted for me was one of a classic filibuster; people taking turnst at the podium, stalling, not listening to anyone else, just saying their piece until it was someone else’s turn to take the wheel.

On principle, I agree with the concept of a filibuster. In drastic times, it could be used to give the minority party a chance to stop the majority; a check and balance system not covered by the constitution.

But this should be a last resort tactic, and not something to be used lightly. I guess you could say it should be analogous to war and diplomacy (before the Bush administration dove headfirst into the ideology of preemptive and vanity wars). War should be used only as a last resort, when any and all attempts at diplomacy have thoroughly dried up. Only by following this concept do we do our military justice when we do go to war.

Likewise, the filibuster is something that should only be employed when there is no room for debate, then, and only then should the minority consider deploying the filibuster as a tactic. But this is not so.

As Tracey pointed out, there was hardly any debate at all. This is shameful, especially considering that there is a rising anti-war tide going on among GOP Senators; it’s almost as though there is a will, just not enough will to make a way.

Tracey asks if our leaders in congress couldn’t have stayed up a little longer. My question is, while you guys were staying up, couldn’t you have at least debated a little? Just a skosh, maybe?

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