Senators to Gather in Closed Meeting
Charles Babington reports, “Senate Democrats, who campaigned on a pledge of more openness in government, will kick off the 110th Congress with a closed meeting of all 100 senators in the Capitol.”
Tim Chapman and Ed Morrissey express concern about the kinds of shenanigans Senators might commit hidden from the sunshine, the latter with a clever allusion to an old Charlie Rich tune. While I’m naturally pretty skeptical of politicians in general and Reid in particular, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.
The Senate has lost much of the collegiality that marked it as a distinct institution from the House of Representatives. Having them get together from time to time without the cameras running and providing temptation to spout off sound bytes that might get them a few seconds of air time could help rebuild a sense of trust among the Members. The occasional off-the-record bull session, hopefully followed by routine lunches, dinners, and after work trips to the pub in smaller groups, would almost certainly be a good thing.
I don’t expect, or even desire, that more social interaction will convince Democrats and Republicans to start holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Frankly, the less they agree, the better since it means fewer laws get passed. But we need to restore the sense that people can genuinely want what’s good for the country and yet disagree on the policies to best achieve that aim. Getting people out of permanent campaign stump speech mode is a good start.