December 25, 2009

Oh dear. What can the matter be?

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Wednesday ripped the Senate's "newest members" for the lack of comity in the upper chamber.

In a floor speech Wednesday night, Dodd said there is "nothing wrong" with partisanship, but added he has "been deeply disturbed by some of the [healthcare] debate I have heard, usually from newer members, usually those who have been here one, two, three years, who do not have an appreciation of what this chamber means and how we work together."

Dodd did not name names, and spokesmen for the Connecticut senator did not respond to requests for comment.

[...] During his speech on Wednesday, Dodd repeatedly revisited his disappointment with the newest members of the Senate: "It is always the newest members who fail to understand how the Senate has worked for more than two centuries. We need to get back to that sense of civility once again ... Even though we have had very strong disagreements, I never once in my life in this chamber ever questioned the patriotic intentions of any member ... the idea you challenge another's patriotism, honesty, their integrity, does a great disservice to this institution, in my view."

He later added, "Again, I regret sometimes the newer members who fail to understand the importance of maintaining that which our Founders envisioned when they created this institution."

Yes, Sen. Dodd, the same Founders who were so angry over their treatment by the crown that they started a violent revolution were certainly much more concerned about manners. Tarring and feathering was simply an elaborate social ritual!

Sen. Dodd is upset about this, and rightfully so. It seems that Sen. Al Franken has this upsetting habit of demanding information from Republicans, and even mocking them when they evade him. One of them apparently went whining to Sen. Dodd and asked him to chastise the horrid Franken.

In case you didn't know, rudeness about political ideology that destroyed this country is on a par - nay, far exceeds the misdeeds of those questioned.

Would that we sought a more genteel way to show our displeasure:

Despite the current constitutional crisis, despite the abandonment of every principle that truly made us the land of the free, the Beltway contingent still believes the problem is merely one of etiquette.

But really, who am I to argue? Maybe they have something here. I’m partial to something I once read in a Regency novel (Jane Austen, I believe). When a societal outcast whose behavior was quite beyond the pale was presumptuous enough to present his hand to you in public, the proper response was to extend to him or her only your pinky.

Get it? You’re such a lowlife, you’re not even deserving of a handshake! I spit on your vileness – in the most polite possible way! I fling my pinky at the likes of you!

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this just might work. Think about it: You’re at a Georgetown cocktail party, and Alberto Gonzales is making small talk by the shrimp bowl. “Your name?” he says, extending his hand.

This is the man who’s decimated the Bill of Rights, mind you. What to do? Do you rip off your shirt, revealing a Code Pink T-shirt and embarrassing the rest of the guests with your sheer crassness – or do you extend your pinky? (Oh, I think you already know the answer.)

Say you’re at a speakers panel somewhere and someone invited Donald Rumsfeld. You’re in the receiving line afterward and you’re getting a little weirded out, yes? Well, you have a few options here. Think it through: If you get into a loud shouting match over the seemingly pointless deaths of soldiers and civilians in Iraq, or threw a vial of pig’s blood on his French handmade shirt, what real impact will you have? (Not to mention, it’s terribly déclassé.) Rummy will just tune you out and everyone else will pretend they didn’t hear you.

Ah, but if you extend your pinky, you’ve said it all – in the most genteel way possible.

Yes, while we may eventually live in a nation of radically reduced liberties, a broken economy and a state of perpetual war, we will have the satisfaction of knowing when the going got rough, we didn’t descend to their level.

We did the right thing. We extended our pinkies, thus earning the thanks of a grateful Village.

Or if that doesn't appeal to you, Sen. Dodd, you could always tell your lobbyist friends to go screw them themselves and vote on behalf of the taxpayers... just kidding!

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