Well, today, I used a great blogger template and css from ww.glish.com. The glish site really does amazing things with style sheets. Please indulge me with the changing colors. One needs a little bit of frivolity sometimes.
I had an interesting civics lesson yesterday. About 2:00 in the morning I went to the apartment workout center to do some exercise. I turned on the TV in the room, watching C-Span. It showed testimony about the economic stimulus program at the House of Representatives. (For a description of the issues, see http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/20/politics/20ASSE.html)
Members of the House Ways & Means Committee were giving their opinions about the House proposal, each relying on a different rhetorical strategy to get his/her point across. Some used hometown anecdotes, others played the “blame game,” others argued facts, some argued about the obligation to help unemployed individuals with health insurance, while others talked about the need to give investment incentives to businesses (a wildly unpopular idea among the public, by the way). Some argued in a congenial, even joking style, while others argued with visible anger. Apparently, the Republican Party (which controlled the House) had forbidden to allow the democratic version of the bill even to be debated, and many protested the fairness of that. (And the Senate controlled by Democrats did precisely the opposite thing, refusing to allow the House-approved bill even to make it to the floor). At the end, Speaker Dennis Hastert appeared and gave a final dispassionate argument for the bill’s passage.
The debate was entrancing and certainly educational. Then I realized that this testimony was not taped from earlier in the day, but was taking place live at 2:00 in the morning (or 3:00 in the morning in Washington D.C.). Our best politicians were staying up extra late to vote on this bill. I had finished my exercising, but I stayed before the tv to see how the vote would go. Most congressmen were there for the vote. It was not especially close, but success was not automatic either.
One might point to this as an example of our country’s political gridlock. But this was a very important vote. Both sides were arguing about the best way to make health insurance available to the poor during these hard times. They were also arguing whether tax breaks for companies deserved to be in the same bill as one offering short-term assistance for unemployed workers. They may not found agreement on that night, but at least politicians were not sleeping.