Day: December 24, 2010

The Heroes And The Goats Of The “Lame Duck” Session Of Congress

The recent “lame duck” session of Congress saw some real heroes and some real goats.

The heroes would include Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana; and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Schumer and Gillibrand used their talents and persuasive abilities to accomplish the passage of the September 11 First Responders Medical legislation. Gillibrand, particularly, became noticed as a truly courageous figure, after much doubt about her after being appointed by Governor David Paterson over more well known and prominent candidates to succeed Hillary Clinton.

Joe Lieberman proved how useful he can be, pursuing the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military with a fierceness and principle rarely seen in any Senator.

Bernie Sanders proved how wonderful a human being he is, fighting for the common people, and against the corporations and the wealthy, and his eight and a half hour filibuster was inspiring.

Richard Lugar gave evidence again that he is one of the best Senators of modern times, pushing for the START Treaty, supporting gays in the military, and being one of three Republicans to support the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, he will probably suffer a primary challenger as a result in 2012, but he is in so many ways, a Senator’s Senator, much like Ted Kennedy was in the recent past!

And Lisa Murkowksi found a new independence as a result of her tough re-election contest as an independent, and courageously supported gays in the military, the DREAM Act, and the START Treaty.

At the same time that the above Senators showed conviction and decency, the following demonstrated how disgraceful some political figures can be, and can be termed as “goats”: Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

All of the above demonstrated bitterness, anger, pettiness, narrow mindedness, and extreme partisanship at a time when a group of Senators of their party actually displayed bipartisanship on the START Treaty, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ending in the military, and the September 11 First Responders Medical legislation.

So congratulations are in order for the first group of Senators above, and a chorus of boos for the second set above!

The Leadership Of Nancy Pelosi And Harry Reid: Pilloried But Successful, Nevertheless!

The Democratic leaders in the now ended 111th Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both faced unprecedented attacks by Republicans, conservatives, and much of the news media, as well as the general public which was mostly ignorant of what they were doing, and the pressures they were constantly under.

Never in the history of the nation has Congressional leadership been so pilloried, ridiculed, abused, mistreated, disrespected to the level that these two stalwarts faced daily, as the barrage of criticism was non stop for both of them.

For Harry Reid, in some ways, it was worse, as his opponent for re-election, Sharron Angle, blamed him for everything that was wrong with America, including, it seemed, “original sin”!

But despite that, Reid came back to the Senate for another six year term, after having the burden of Republican filibusters, his campaign problems, and his wife’s serious auto accident. What a set of burdens to carry, and Harry Reid carried them with grace and dignity. A soft spoken man, often underrated, he did much more than anyone thought he could, culminating in the Lame Duck Session triumphs of the past two weeks!

Pelosi, considered in the class of Thomas “Tip” O’Neill and Sam Rayburn as a Speaker of the House, faced vilification, with much of it based on the fact that she was a woman, a strong, outspoken woman, who was not going to take GOP opposition and allow it to dominate the Congressional agenda. More legislation was passed under her than since the mid 1960s, and there were also hundreds of other bills that never made it through the Senate, making her an extremely productive leader!

There is no way around it, but to say, that we should applaud both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for a job well done, and a Congress which will stand out in history as one of the best ever, despite all the naysaying and negativism that prevails.

Will John Boehner have anywhere near the level of accomplishment and success of Nancy Pelosi with his caucus, with so many Tea Party activist rebels in the group? Don’t bet on it! 🙁