Pettiness even trumps national security

PETTINESS EVEN TRUMPS NATIONAL SECURITY…. We talked earlier about the latest Republican tactic: refusing to allow the Senate to hold any hearings, on any issue, after 2 p.m. The point is to spite Democrats for passing health care reform. The GOP tantrum continues today in ways that are breathtakingly stupid.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, for example, has scheduled some pretty important hearings this afternoon. Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) appeared on the Senate floor earlier, imploring his colleagues to let his hearings continue.

“We’ve had, we have three [U.S. military] commanders scheduled to testify this afternoon. They’ve been scheduled for a long time. They’ve come a long, long distance. One of them has come from Korea; one of them has come from Hawaii. And I would, therefore, ask unanimous consent that the previously scheduled and currently scheduled hearing of the Committee on Armed Services be allowed to proceed.”

Levin added that the committee’s ranking member, John McCain, also wants the hearing to proceed, and the hearing would not conflict with any scheduled floor votes. Among those scheduled to testify are Adm. Robert Willard, Navy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command; and Gen. Walter Sharpe, Army Commander of U.S. forces in Korea.

All Levin needed was for the Senate to let the hearing occur, as would be normal on any other day. But that requires unanimous consent, and Sen. Richard Burr (R) of North Carolina rose to explain that there’s “an objection on our side of the aisle.”

So there will be no hearing, because the increasingly pathetic Republican caucus is miffed that the Senate majority voted for a bill the GOP didn’t like.

Scheduled hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee have also been suspended, because they were slated to begin after 2, and the GOP refuses to allow the hearings to happen.

I’ve seen more maturity from second graders than from the Republican caucus of the United States Senate.

In terms of messaging, though, I think Ezra has the right idea:

I could imagine a lot of smart ways to begin obstructing the chamber and making life miserable for Democrats. But declaring that you won’t work after 2 p.m? Do Republicans really think the average American is going to rally to that battle cry?

If Senate Dems want to see Republicans scramble, they’d run with this one. Have the leadership hold a press conference and announce, “We’re stunned that Republicans won’t let the Senate function after 2 p.m. American workers don’t the option to just stop working at 2 because he or she feels like it, and there’s no reason their Republican senators should just call it a day after lunch. Republicans have gone from the party that only says “no” to the party that’s too lazy to say anything at all.”