David Brooks gets all sentimental and weepy over the lack of comity in the Senate because the Democrats might use reconciliation to pass the healthcare bill.
Once partisan reconciliation is used for this bill, it will be used for everything, now and forever. The Senate will be the House. The remnants of person-to-person relationships, with their sympathy and sentiment, will be snuffed out. We will live amid the relationships of group versus group, party versus party, inhumanity versus inhumanity.
We have a political culture in which the word “reconciliation” has come to mean “bitter division.” With increasing effectiveness, the system bleaches out normal behavior and the normal instincts of human sympathy.
I suppose it would be pointless to remind Mr. Brooks that President Bush’s tax cuts passed in the Senate in 2003 through reconciliation and then only by the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Cheney. And then last month we were treated to the spectacle of Senators Jim Bunning and Richard Shelby, both Republicans, bringing the Senate to a screeching halt because of their personal vendettas. I don’t seem to recall that he used those as examples as the end of civilized discourse as we know it.
Being lectured about the loss of civility in Congress by a Republican is like getting a lesson in table manners from an alligator.