Day: December 18, 2009

Civility In The US Senate: Desperately Needed!

It was disturbing to see another example of the loss of civility in the midst of the heated debate in the Senate over health care reform, when Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who was presiding at the time, denied Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman the opportunity for one more minute to finish his remarks.

It is true that the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had set up a ten minute limit so that work could be made on the defense appropriations bill, so as to make it possible to return to the health care debate. But if a senator was to be allowed a one extra minute extension would not have been a crime. It made Franken look very rude and nasty.

In any case, it led Arizona Senator John McCain to criticize Franken for his action, although it has since been shown that McCain prevented extra discussion of the Iraq War resolution in 2002 when he was presiding, so there is an element of hypocrisy in McCain stepping in to protest.

Ironically, Lieberman took the rejection of the extra minute gracefully and even chuckled in surprise. And get this: later in the day, Lieberman and Franken were seen conversing, laughing, and even hugging each other as if nothing important had happened.

So the whole incident does seem maybe somewhat contrived, as one looks back at it. But it also shows that Joe Lieberman, for all the criticism he takes and the anger he engenders, can still be a decent human being and a cordial, friendly person, even to those who wrong him in some way.

So the incident does not deserve the condemnation of the Minnesota Republican party to the extent that they bitterly denounced Franken. But again,realize, so much of this is staged politics, so it is hard to know if what you see occurring is real.

Let’s just say that the principle of civility and decency in political discourse is still a good thing to promote under any circumstances!