The United States Senate, the "world's greatest deliberative body", if they say so themselves, is having serious issues getting anything done, which is the absolute norm when neither party has 60 reliable votes. And even then, when one does, we end up with fecal bills like the one which gave us Obamacare.
And when they do talk, we get the imbecilic speeches associated with public congressional committee meetings, and we have Harry Reid broadcasting from the well of the Senate that he has it on good authority that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes since the early Carter Administration. And we have Chuck Schumer ... which is a "nuf sed" moment all by itself.
I hear constantly that the senators are very, very friendly with each other across the aisle, although I'm sure that Elizabeth Warren isn't friendly with anyone, in or out of the Senate. But 99 of them presumably are.
Yet nothing gets done, and by "nothing" I mean "nothing." They go out for beers and then in the morning they talk past each other at best, and yell at each other at worst. And still nothing gets done. Even the Republicans, with a majority, inadequate as it is, appear to be ready to vote on a replacement to Obamacare that no one likes, that doesn't really come close to repealing it, and that leaves in place the soul-crushing taxes.
To which I say, "Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump."
President Trump was not exactly rooting for Macron in the French election not long ago. But sure enough, Macron won and is now the president of France, or whatever the French call their head dude or dudette in charge.
They met during the G-20 meetings and discovered something very odd. They actually seemed to like each other. There is some fundamental disagreement about things like global warming and maybe a little globalism thrown in, but basic civility enhanced by mutual "liking" from those meetings prompted Macron to offer an invitation for the president to go to France for Bastille Day (that's today) -- and for the president to set aside whatever he was planning, ob very short notice, and actually go.
Yesterday they met at length and held a press conference, and it was pretty evident from the unstaged photo ops that they get along really well. So, it should be said, did their wives, which could have played a non-trivial role in all this, though I've not heard that suggested.
They are pushing forward with some areas of agreement and getting things done. How much they do get done remains to be seen, but I expect positive action to take place, and that's from someone (me) not too inclined to give the French the benefit of the doubt on anything.
I hope Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer are watching. There has to be a lesson in that somewhere, that two world leaders who are not in lockstep on several issues manage to work through the others, and at least discuss the ones they disagree on without grotesque insults. Can not our senators consider the needs of the nation and try to work together? Is it acceptable that Senate roll calls get no votes from Democrats on Republican initiatives and vice versa? Can they really be that partisan (hint: "yes")?
Looking at Trump and Macron suggest that Trump and Putin might be able to get along a bit, much as Trump and China's Xi appear to have been able to. But none of that will matter if the leaders of the Senate cannot.
We in the USA are out here drumming our fingers.
Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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