A remarkable thing happened in the United States Senate earlier this evening, and it occurred over a rather unremarkable piece of legislation that was being debated. Conservatives, frustrated at the lack of a genuine leader of their party, may have finally found one in Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
After Democratic leader Harry Reid’s MoveOn.org all-night session Tuesday night, a move that resulted only in helping unify the weak-kneed Republicans who were peeling away from continued support of the Petraeus surge in Iraq, McConnell, the Republican leader, served notice to anyone watching C-SPAN that he now runs the Senate.
Hewitt goes on to tell, in a most entertaining fashion, a blow by blow of how GOP Senate Minority Leader McConnell gave Democrat Harry Reid a little hands-one Senatorial workshop with a series of amendments and parliamentary maneuvers, starting with one about Guantanamo Bay:...a funny thing happened. The bill was titled in a way that you had to vote yes to vote no, and no to vote yes. The final vote was 94-3, officially putting the Senate on record as saying terrorist detainees shouldn’t be moved to the U.S. Before the Democrats, who clearly hadn’t read the amendment, realized they screwed up, the vote was recorded.
Sen. Kennedy went on a rant in anger. But that wasn't all:
...McConnell could easily have rested on his laurels, but he wasn’t finished. Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar offered his own irrelevant amendment, asking for a sense of the Senate that President Bush not pardon Scooter Libby.
McConnell, with that wry smile he offers when he’s up to something, countered with a secondary amendment to Salazar’s, saying that if it’s fair to bring up the Senate’s view of potential future inappropriate pardons, maybe we should also have a sense of the Senate of past inappropriate pardons, and proceeded to maneuver the Senate clerk into reading off the laundry list of Clinton administration pardons, including those of Marc Rich and others, which again set the Democrats off in a tailspin.
After throwing the Senate back into a quorum call for half an hour, the beleaguered Harry Reid came out and pulled the Salazar amendment off the floor. He’d been Mitchslapped twice in one night.
Kennedy ranted again -- in Hewitt's opinion, increasingly in frustration at his own leadership's incompetence.
The entire piece, again, is entertaining, especially reading about Sen. Kennedy's anger at the student loan bill, that everyone was ready to vote on, being held up by annoying amendments.
Hm, what were Republicans just saying about the recent military appropriations bill? Republicans were ready to vote on that one, too, but even though Senators could agree on the vast majority of it, it was tanked by Reid over Iraq amendments with timetables -- amendments that were not going to be able to pass, let alone survive a veto, and that thus deserved to go down in defeat. As Hewitt put it:
...Mitch McConnell has run rings around (Reid) on issues from Iraq to immigration, and tonight, he just flat-out schooled Reid on how the Senate works, as if to say to Reid you messed with us two nights ago on a PR stunt for your fringe base, here’s how things like that can be answered.