Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CSPAN rules

I hadn't allowed myself the guilty pleasure of watching the ultimate reality TV for several weeks, but last night I stumbled on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "business meeting" about John Bolton (video available here). I'd of course already read that the Committee--typically the most collegial bunch of Senators--had voted to delay sending Bolton to the floor, and I was curious about how that went down. Bass Ale(s) in hand, I spent a delightful couple of hours watching delicious political theater. Lugar, none too happy, was trying his best to ram a quick partyline vote through, while Biden objected, Sarbanes waxed indignant in that odd mix of reasoned Rhodes Scholar with a twinge of Bawmorese, Kerry, Boxer and Dodd added objections, and then things got heated. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd were particularly excellent; Joe, who can grandstand with the best of them, was red-faced, wiley, and absolutely convincing. Dodd really hammered home his concerns, Kerry and Sarbanes questioned the need to rush in more sedate tones, and even Obama quietly got in a plea for time. There was much red-faced bellowing.

Then, a remarkable thing happened. Chuck Hagel broke ranks to say that while he supported voting to send Bolton to the floor, he in no way intended to suggest he would support Bolton because the concerns Biden had raised were very serious indeed, and then Sen. Voinovich of all people said he was very very concerned by what Biden and Dodd had just said--and despite the contempt for process the wormy Norm Coleman and attack dog George Allen showed, the Committee decided not to decide.

There's hope! Bolton might deservedly get sent back to bureaucratic anonymity. My favorite moment? An overly exercised Chris Dodd yelling that Bolton's actions "oughtta be indictable! Instead we're going to promote this guy!"

Satisfied, I flipped over to Fox News and watched as Mort Kondrake and Charles Krauthammer expressed serious concerns about Tom DeLay's ethics. Bizzarr-o world, I tells ya. The momumentally on-message block of Righties are fracturing a bit.