Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
ISSUE #365
Will gets wind of Senate Filibuster

# 365, May 25, 2005

COLUMBUS: Just when Congress was about to get interesting, why the Senate came to agreement and spoiled the fun. They’ve been teasing us for months about a Filibuster, and with about 5 seconds left to play in the game, they all get in a huddle in the middle of the field and say, ‘Let’s quit arguing and call it a tie’. Now of course it wasn’t all one hundred of ’em smoking the peace pipe. But Quarterback Bill Frist was left on one side with no one to throw the ball to, and Linebacker Harry Reid was alone on the other side, stripped to his socks and underwear.

I was all set to watch C-SPAN around the clock, with nothing on the screen but one Senator after another, taking turns filibustering to an empty chamber. Can you imagine anything that would cause America to turn off the TV quicker than forty Democrat Senators talking day after day, night after night? Only thing that might be worse is forty Republican Senators. Or the Jackson trial. At least they had the good sense to bring in Jay Leno and Larry King, if only for comedy purposes. To misquote Vincente Fox, “There’s some TV shows that nobody in America wants to watch, not even Mexicans.”

Here, I had dug up all these old filibuster stories, to recycle them for another laugh, and those 14 Senators in the middle want me to start from scratch. Well, I’ll give ’em to you anyway, and if you don’t laugh, blame me. If they make you cry, blame the Senate.

(“The Senate) filibustered all last night. We pay for wisdom and we get wind.” (DT # 574, May 29, 1928)

“Just think, one of those filibusters have held up Boulder Dam for seven years, and when it came to a vote only eleven men were against it.” DT # 745, Dec. 16, 1928

“Washington papers say: ‘Congress is deadlocked and can’t act.’ I think that is the greatest blessing that could befall this country.” (WA #59, Jan. 27, 1924)

(there’s another dose of Senate filibuster below…)

Last Sunday I was in Lewis County, West Virginia, at the first annual Eatin’, Singin’ and History Festival. It was put on by the radio station WHAW (also available on the internet at WHAWradio.com). About a dozen wonderful singing groups provided hours of inspiration and entertainment. Between acts I provided some history, either real or concocted. I was ably assisted in this role by the “widow” of local hero, General Stonewall Jackson. For the record, Stonewall is no relation to Michael, none at all. Mrs. Anna Jackson was downright regal in her long sleeve dress with hoop skirt of the 1860s. She said she was shocked at the number of girls and ladies with “exposed limbs”. I told her if she is shocked at the modest attire worn here, she better avoid Hollywood. The Earl of Elkview, George Daugherty, helped out and he is old enough to personally remember a good portion of our history.

I reminded the crowd that all I know is what I read in the newspaper, or hear on the radio. The local weekly paper, the Weston Democrat, had a picture of their state legislator, Doug Stalnaker, a fine young man, speaking at the Rotary luncheon club. The caption said he “explained the recent session of the Legislature”. Now these luncheon meetings only go an hour, normally, and nobody can explain a Legislature in less than a week. Then I read the rest of the caption and saw the picture was taken April 27, and then it started to jell because this was published in the May 18 edition. He had kept those Rotarians in session for 3 weeks.

Tonight Carrie Underwood won ‘American Idol’. Another Oklahoma singer makes good.

Next week, with permission of Senator Voinovich, we’ll get to the vote on John Bolton.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: on a Senate filibuster

“As I am writing this, (the Senate) is having what is called a filibuster. The name is just as silly as the thing itself. It means that a man can get up and talk for 15 or 20 hours at a time, then be relieved by another, just to keep some bill from coming to a vote, no matter about the merit of this particular bill, whether it’s good or bad. There is no other body of lawmakers in the world that has a thing like it. Why, if a distinguished foreigner was to be taken around to see our institutions and was taken into the Senate and not told what institution it was, and heard a man ramble on, talking that had been going for 10 to 12 hours, he would probably say, ‘You have lovely quarters here for your insane, but have you no warden to look after their health – to see that they don’t talk themselves to death?’

Imagine a ball player standing at bat and not letting the other side play. Or an actor, the first one in a show, talking all night to keep the rest from going on. You know how long he would last. It’s against all the laws of American sportsmanship, never mind the parliamentary part of it.

One Senator threatened to read the Bible into the record as part of his speech, and I guess he would have done it if somebody in the Capitol had had a Bible. Now that would have been a good thing, for it would have given a lot of them a chance to hear what it says. But, of course, that was even too sensible to go through. Instead, they just did their own act for 10 to 12 hours each, which they thought would be better than anything they could find in the Bible. To imagine how bad this thing is, did you ever attend a dinner and hear a Senator speak for 50 minutes or an hour? If you have, you remember what that did to you! Well, just imagine the same thing only 12 times worse.” WA #12, March 4, 1923.

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