Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The action shifts to the Senate

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote, later today, on the financial bailout legislation.

I find that interesting, in the sense that members of both houses of Congress are often reluctant to vote on a controversial bill, if there is significant doubt that the legislation will pass in the other house. They see no purpose in sticking their necks out by going on the record in favor of the bill if, in the end, it's not going to become law anyway.

Now, it may be that they're confident that a modified version of the legislation will eventually be approved by the House of Representatives, despite the House's rejection of one version of the bill, earlier this week. I suspect that is the case.

But I'm also reminded of something that Brit Hume said on Fox News, during George W. Bush's second inauguration, in 2005. John Kerry emerged onto the inaugural stage on the West Front of the Capitol, smiling, and cheerfully greeting fellow spectators. The Fox commentators, not, of course, generally sympathetic to Kerry, talked about how he appeared to be putting on a good show, at an event about which he was presumably unhappy.

But Hume interrupted that line of commentary, and offered the opinion that, perhaps, Washington journalists sometimes overdo their cynicism about politicians. Maybe Kerry genuinely saw the inauguration as a celebration of the renewal of American democracy, rather than of a victory for the other party, and for his personal rival Bush.

In the same manner, perhaps the line of thinking I got into above, regarding the upcoming Senate vote, is based on an overly cynical view of the senators. Maybe, believe it or not, they perceive vital national interests to be at stake, and think that their voting now, in advance of a second vote in the House, is the best way to move the bill forward.

If any Washington politicians happen to read this, you may want to savor this moment, because you're unlikely to find such sympathetic commentary on your motives in this forum very often.

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