One of my favorite details in the reporting about the closed-door session of the Senate that Harry Reid called yesterday was this one from the AP version of the story: “[Lott] said Reid’s move violated the Senate’s tradition of courtesy and consent.”
It actually made me laugh out loud when I read that Lott was complaining that Reid was violating a tradition of courtesy in the Senate. One of the defining features of the current Republican majority is that it has demonstrated a great willingness to revoke traditional practice, and has ignored courtesy and consent whenever it has suited them.
For example, in the past four years the Republicans have ended the following practices:
- The traditional courtesy that a home-state senator of a judicial nominee could put a hold on the nomination;
- The tradition of anonymous floor holds on judicial appointments;
- The traditional courtesy that at least one minority-party member of the Judiciary Committee should agree to move a nominee out of committee;
- The traditional courtesy of allowing the minority party to request information about the progress of a Senate investigation, such as the one into the failures of pre-war Iraq intelligence;
- The traditional courtesy that the President discusses Supreme Court nominations with the minority-party leadership before making a nomination.
- And last but not least, of course, the Republican majority has made it clear that they are perfectly willing to change long-standing Senate rules regarding the filibuster, if the use of the filibuster by the minority party is inconvenient to them.
I’m sure that this is just a partial list, by the way; feel free to add more.
Given this, I can’t say that I feel the slightest bit sorry for the Republican majority in the Senate for Harry Reid’s bold procedural move. Most importantly, though, the move resulted in the Republicans agreeing to take some concrete steps toward investigating the intelligence failures that led the country into war. Knowing more about what happened regarding pre-war intelligence can only be a good thing; it’s a shame that Republicans have been so reluctant to help increase our understanding.
As usual, however, for the best reaction to this maneuver see Giblet’s outrage on Fafblog.