Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Rule 21 and the Location of a Spine

For months many observers have wondered where the fire and passion was from the Democrats. While the Republicans have seemingly been imploding, the Democrats have been nearly silent. On the war, on the Hurricane Katrina response, on the rising gas prices, on the Roberts nomination, on the first indictment in 135 years of a White House staffer, the Democrats have offered no leadership, no alternative vision and no political spine.

However, the giant woke up today around noon and began to roar. From the floor of the United States Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) angry at the lack of movement of a Senate investigation of pre-war intelligence and whether Congress was mislead to go to war invoked Rule 21, which means Senate must go into a closed session to discuss national security issues. It is the first time in 25 years that it has been invoked and the Senate shutdown.

After last weeks indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the now former Chief of Staff for the Vice-President, the Dems may have seen an opening to have a national discussion about the reason we went to war in Iraq.

The ongoing investigation of the Special Prosecutor despite the Libby indictment has allowed pre-war intel to remain in the news and the Democrats now seem to be taking advantage.

The dramatic maneuver was not taken lightly. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called the move "a slap in the face" and a move that broke with Senate protocol.

Broken protocol? I think thou doth protest too much. This is the same man who "broke protocol" and campaigned (hard) against a sitting Minority Leader when he waded into the South Dakota Senate race last year.

Despite the hypocrisy, the Republicans were clearly caught off guard and truly angry about the Democratic procedural move.

We now sit and wait outside the closed Senate doors and see what this secret session yields. We also sit and wait to see if the Democrats will use this new found confidence and will filibuster the President 's most recent choice to the Supreme Court.

Was the invocation of Rule 21 a blip on the screen of political machismo or was it the first revelation of a new steel political spine, determination and passion?

Only time and the discussion behind the closed doors will tell.