The Highchair Party Throws A Tantrum On The Senate Floor

Yesterday, the Democrats pulled a puerile publicity stunt that is sure to get a lot of coverage this week:

“Accusing Republicans of ignoring questions about pre-war intelligence, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session today, igniting anger from GOP leaders.

…Speaking to reporters in the hall outside the Senate chamber, Majority Leader Bill Frist shot back, charging the Senate “has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership.”

“They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas,” he said.

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Noting the Senate had been considering a budget bill, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., suggested Democrats were growing uncomfortable with the threat of slashing spending.

Frist said the Democratic Party leadership did not warn him in advance of the move, which Republicans called a “political stunt.”

“It means from now on, for the next year and half, I can’t trust Senator Reid,” the Tennessee lawmaker said.

Durbin told reporters the Democratic Senate staff notified Republican staff as the session began.

Frist explained that the closed session meant all electronic devices had to be removed and staff and media were barred from the room.

…In his speech before issuing the motion, Reid said that in the wake of the indictment Friday of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the American people and U.S. troops deserved to know details of how the U.S. got into the Iraq war.

Reid said Libby was the highest level official to be indicted in some 130 years, then asked: “Is it any wonder, Mr. President, I am worried about my grandchildren?”

Reid previously spoke of concern about his family’s future welfare as he ticked off a list of familiar Democratic complaints about the performance of the Bush administration on issues ranging from the war to the economy.

The minority leader said the Libby indictment “provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.”

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters the reason for the closed door session was to ask the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., why, “despite repeated promises,” the panel has not complied with Democrats requests to conduct an investigation into problems with pre-war intelligence.

….Since 1929, when the Senate made secret sessions the exception rather than the rule, the body has gone into closed session 53 times, mostly over issues of national security. The last time was Feb. 9-12, 1999, when it deliberated over the impeachment trial of President Clinton.”

It’s easy to see what happened here.

For the last few months, things have been going the Democrats’ way. Bush’s poll numbers have been steadily declining, the Plamegate investigation produced endless speculation, conservatives have been getting increasingly frustrated, and then, to top it all off, conservatives got into a big brawl over Harriet Miers.

All of these developments seemed so thrilling, so exciting, so wonderful to the Democrats! They were fantasizing about Cheney and Rove being frogmarched off to jail and a conservative crack-up that would allow the Democrats to get back in power next year.

But then, over the last few days, the Democrats got 3 rude, rapid-fire shocks.

First, Bush stopped the conservative infighting by pulling the Harriet Miers nomination. Next, the Fitzgerald investigation turned out to be more of a repeat of the Martha Stewart case than another Watergate. Then, to top it all off, George Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court on Monday, which really united and fired-up Republicans for the first time since November of 2004. Also keep in mind that you’ve got Republicans in the House and Senate working on spending cuts, economic growth is still strong, and the Iraqis just recently approved their Constitution.

So, by having this little tantrum, the Democrats were hoping to stop the GOP’s momentum. In effect, what they were saying was: “You think the Republicans have been doing pretty well over the last week or so? Well, all eyes on us and let us show you what we can do!”

And what did they have to offer?

More of the same old, same old that they’ve been talking about for years. “We don’t like Bush! Democrats made mistakes when they said there were WMD’s in Iraq, but Bush lied. Somebody in the White House has been charged with a crime. Blah, blah, blah.”

It’s like they sat down and tried to come up with a way to validate some of the worst stereotypes about the Democratic Party. “Well, they say that we’re nothing but “unrepublicans” who have no ideas to make America a better place so let’s prove them right by shutting down the Senate in order to complain about Bush again! That’ll show ’em!”

As bad as the Republican Party up in Washington has been over the last year, at least there are signs that they’re starting to turn it around. At least they do something other than sit around and carp about Harry Reid and Company all day long.

In my book, that puts them way ahead of the Democrats, who have gone from being the “Mommy Party” to the “highchair party.” Maybe the “Daddy Party” isn’t perfect, but it’s good to know that there’s at least one group of self-respecting adults up in Washington still trying, albeit imperfectly, to take care of the people’s business.

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