Well, it would seem that the United States Senate has been placed into receivership by 14 self-appointed trustees, several of whom are amongst the Senate's most wanton exhibitionists. Some of these ladies and gentlemen can be seen almost daily preening in front of television cameras confessing their moral superiority over their colleagues by virtue of their lack of firm convictions and their unwillingness to be team players.
Ironically, they have just formed the most exclusive club in the Senate, which was, until Monday evening, itself the world's most exclusive club. They are the charter and, presumably exclusive, members of a club within a club.
This will be an interesting experiment in the application of Lord Acton's ever-applicable maxim that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Senate trustees might want to recall another of Lord Acton's many pithy truths: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern ... Every class is unfit to govern."
Let no one assume that this little assemblage of selfless senators will limit the reach of their writ to the matter of judicial appointments. As if one couldn't guess, on Monday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham -- the Tom Sawyer of the Senate -- looking all twinkly-eyed and mischievous into the television camera, promised that the wonderful 14 would soon be announcing their plan to reform Social Security. Tomorrow, the world!
So begins the Regency Period of the United States Senate. As long as these 14 stick together, nothing can pass the Senate. Certainly they now possess, jointly and severally, veto power over the president's judicial appointments. Hereafter it would be imprudent of the president of the United States to send up any nominations without first requesting permission from Democratic Sens. Robert C. Byrd, Daniel K. Inouye, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Ken Salazar. The president need not check with the seven Republican senators because their only job is to keep the Republican leadership powerless. It is exclusively the Democratic senators who are empowered to give their imperial thumbs up or down signals.
What shall we call these 14 senators? Trustees, regents, governing board members, blessed ones, lord protectors, proconsuls, oligarchs, cabalists, conspirators, usurpers? For the moment, it doesn't matter. History will give them their final designation. Certainly they see themselves as saviors of the Senate traditions. (God save us from self-appointed saviors. It always ends in tears.)
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.