Who’s the Boss?

WHO’S THE BOSS?….Votes on symbolic resolutions are so common in Congress, they hardly ever spark any controversy at all. Lawmakers from both parties, in both chambers, honor someone from their district or state, they give a laudatory speech, and their resolution passes unanimously. It couldn’t be any more routine.

Unless, that is, the resolution is honoring an entertainer who happened to campaign for John Kerry last year.

Bruce Springsteen famously was “born in the USA,” but he’s getting scorned in the U.S. Senate.

An effort by New Jersey’s senators, both Democrats, to honor the veteran rocker was shot down yesterday by Republicans who apparently are still miffed a year after the Boss lent his voice to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

The chamber’s GOP leaders refused to bring up for consideration a resolution, introduced by Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, that honored Springsteen’s long career and the 1975 release of his iconic album “Born to Run.”

Asked why the resolution was blocked, Senate Republicans wouldn’t say. The Springsteen line about “a town full of losers” comes to mind.

But it’s also worth noting that congressional Republicans seem to be taking these inconsequential votes more and more seriously. About two months ago, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wanted to name a post office in Berkeley after a 94-year-old former city councilwoman. Rep. Steve King of Iowa accused the woman, Maudelle Shirek, of having communist ties and he led a fight to defeat Lee’s measure. Accused of engaging in blatant McCarthyism, King said, “If [Lee] studied her history, she’d recognize Joe McCarthy was a great American hero.”

If anyone’s looking for hints as to why the political atmosphere on Capitol Hill has become so toxic, votes like these might offer some insight.