Collins 1, Brooks 0

COLLINS 1, BROOKS 0…. I hadn’t heard about this, but apparently every Wednesday, New York Times columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins have a little chat about current events, writing their exchange for everyone to see. Yesterday’s discussion made for some fun reading.

David Brooks: Gail, there I was watching the snow drift down on the Brooks estate in suburban Maryland last Saturday, when suddenly, after some spluttering and coughing, I was without power. Now I know how the Republicans feel.

Gail Collins: David, I think the Republican analogy would work only if your next step was to barricade yourself in the power station, turn off service to all the people who did have power and announce that nobody was going to do anything until the company promised to build its next generator on your block and employ all your family, friends and neighbors at handsome salaries to do the assembling. But I’m sorry, you were saying about the snow…

This is my kind of chat.

Brooks went on to explain that he’s “never been more depressed about Washington’s ability to do anything.” I know the feeling. He added that he expects “a nasty set of squabbles over small amounts of money that are not there.”

Collins helpfully clarified matters: “If we ever get to the small amounts of money. We could spend the rest of this year just trying to confirm the top appointments to the Agriculture Department.”

It concluded with some words of wisdom from Collins:

…I think we just need one simple change that will get us back to the good old days when Congress was capable of passing standard legislation and could occasionally summon the will to make large, imperfect fixes of urgent national problems.

Get rid of the Senate filibuster. It wouldn’t make things tidy. It wouldn’t be utopia. The Democrats will miss it next time they’re in the minority. But when people elected a government, it would get to govern again.

This came in an online back-and-forth, so it probably won’t get read by too many people, but that’s a shame. Collins’ point needs to be trumpeted — Congress used to be able to legislate, and policymakers used to be able to govern. One simple rule prevents this and “one simple change” can make it right.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.