Tony Blankley
How have we arrived at this place where the fate of our federal budget -- our economy, indeed our capacity to have a functioning federal government -- seems to depend on what two men (the speaker of the House and the president) may or may not be secretly talking about in an interior room in the White House?

Meanwhile, elected representatives and senators, kept ignorant of those life-and-death discussions, are forced to wait. When the two men are finished -- doubtlessly mere hours before "the world will end" -- our elected representatives and senators will be stampeded to vote yes for a deal about which no one knows the details. Cattle may need to be stampeded; elected representatives of the American people never should be so compelled.

The country will learn from a compliant Washington press corps that to vote no would be an irresponsible act verging on treason to the people. The reporters won't know what's in the deal any more than the congressmen -- or the president or the speaker -- but they will smugly mug any noncompliant elected representative.

Government by the elected representatives of the people is coming to be government by two (or three or four) men in a secret room pronouncing the new law that will be rubber-stamped -- or else!

Accepting such a process as normal is a new phenomenon, but it is becoming in Washington an acceptable procedure. Consider the following from The Washington Post in last Sunday's paper:

"The nation's leaders tried again Saturday to return to regular order after an extraordinary spectacle Friday night, when negotiations over debt and deficits gave way to acrimony and recriminations between President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). They have little time to repair the damage."

Consider that phrase "regular order," which was used to describe the process of the speaker and the president's returning to their private negotiations.

Regular order is a Washington term of art that means the exact opposite of the writing of a bill in secret by a few congressional leaders and the president. It means letting each house of Congress introduce bills, hold open committee hearings, mark up the legislation in public, vote for it and then send it to the floor, where it is discussed openly and then voted for and sent to the president for signature.

Both former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and current Speaker Boehner have called for "regular order," as opposed to secret deals.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

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.

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