December 23rd, 2009

Fishy Circumstances

In the Senate

Yesterday, we perched up in the seats above the US Senate. Rows upon rows of wooden desks, like magnificient school desks, stood empty. There were at most six senators present - not that we could see them all from our vantage point. Not far below us, we could watch over an editor's shoulder, seeing the out-of-sight senators speak.

Of course much of government is largely conducted in empty rooms, but I can't remember thinking of it that way before. These senators weren't orating to us, up in the balcony, or even very much to each other. Their audience was whoever happened to flip through channels and pause on C-Span for a moment. Their charts were reiterated from the day before. Their points were largely along the lines of, "As I said earlier..." or "As I was saying yesterday..." It wasn't debate. It was filling time by looking good.

Some of them might even sound good, but most were waffling on, deliberately filling time. I was grateful for McCain, who still had wit and a spark of life in him, despite the emptiness of the room's grandeur.

It began to seem like a pageant, each senator coming on when the script called for it, otherwise off in the wings, doing business, on vacation, not cluttering up the stage.