Pork and Deliberation


Lisa Kramer

Lisa Kramer is a contributing contributor at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Baby killin’, racist, commie-dems are not my favorite political whores, and Bobby Byrd personified that genus of bottom feeders. However, he did love his wife and his dogs so he wasn’t all bad.Report

  2. Avatar Simon K says:

    So is there any relationship between open pork-peddling and other back-room dealing and the willingness of politicians to be openly deliberative? Beyond the two things simply having tended to coincide in the history of the senate, that is.Report

  3. Avatar Pinky says:

    There’s a lot to think about in this article. Would I (that is, Senator I) have sat with Hatch at Byrd’s speech? I don’t think so. For one reason, I don’t think that length of service is necessarily a virtue. But the bigger reason is Byrd himself, and his background. I can forgive the man who regrets his earlier racism, but I don’ t think I can honor him.

    As to your paradoxes, Lisa, I can solve one of them. Machine politics *is* a type of populism. It developed as a means to reward supporters of every rank. Anyone can remember to pay off his top two or three allies, but it takes a machine to distribute perks all the way down the line. I hope that our nation-building experts in Afghanistan remember that “getting everyone on the same page” isn’t always pretty.

    Lastly, when it comes to taking care of your state, I like Phil Gramm’s approach best. He’d say that he doesn’t want the federal government doing (whatever project) at all, but if they’re going to do it, it’s going to be in Texas.Report

  4. Avatar T. Greer says:

    Jessica Senior wrote an astute essay for the New Yorker on the subject of the Senate a few months ago. One section of it comes to mind:

    But the Senate is supposed to be above the game, I tell him, at least in the election off-season. Richard Russell, the legendary Democrat from Georgia, had a saying—

    “I know,” he said. “My father used to quote it: ‘The Senate allows you two years as a statesman, two years as a politician, and two years as a demagogue.’?” He gave me a wistful look right then, and proceeded to say exactly what I’d been thinking. “And that’s actually changed. You’re now a demagogue the full six years.”

    Our Senators are not statesmen. They are campaigners. This accounts for the lack of dialogue – who has the time for this when every Saturday must be spent flying home to the constituents and every monday with the donors?

    But I have argued this case before. The problem with popularly elected Senators is that their selection is ultimately dependent on their ability to run – and more importantly, fund- large scale electoral campaigns. How can a Senator “remember” that he was sent to Washington to serve his state if his election was secured by the party committee headquarters in DC? What interest has a Senator in dialogue that can’t be parsed into 7-second sound bites and then streamed back to his millions of constituents?Report