Thursday, December 17, 2009

WWMD? - What Would Sen. Mark Begich Do? - Updated x 2

Question for the day:

Would Sen. Mark Begich have dared to assert himself so openly, when acting as Presiding Officer of the U.S. Senate, as did Sen. Al Franken today?

Updated - 9:00 a.m. Friday: And the answer is - YES:

WASHINGTON -- Normally when senators preside over the Senate, they do little but direct traffic, showing little partiality or emotion as they allow their colleagues to yammer on at length.

So when Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Sen. Mark Begich. D-Alaska, for additional time to keep talking about health care Thursday afternoon, it wasn't the kind of request usually denied in the polite Senate, where long-windedness is generally tolerated.

But Begich's response was unusual: "In my capacity as the senator from Alaska, I object."

Flummoxed, Cornyn retreated for a moment, then tried again: "Is it the intent of the presiding officer to prevent any senator from speaking on the floor on this important bill? I'm looking around and I don't see any other senator waiting to speak," the Texas Republican said, gesturing to the empty chamber. "I simply would like an explanation of the chair's ruling."

Although Begich may have given Cornyn flashbacks of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and his grumpy alter ego, the Hulk, the testy exchange wasn't personal. Cornyn's spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said they quickly figured out it was "obviously procedural."

It turns out the freshman Democrat from Alaska was acting under orders of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader, who said he had grown tired of what he deemed Republican delaying tactics.

Go, Mark!

Update Two (freeper notes in the comments that neither Sen. Franken nor Sen. Begich were "asserting" themselves, they were merely following instructions from leadership to speed up debate. I was unaware of the instructions when I initially posted this article.) Here's a YouTube (hat tip to akglow) of the Begich-Cornyn exchange from Friday:


Anonymous said...

simple answer to an easy question.


Anonymous said...

Yep. He did it first.

flying fish said...

Mr. McCain is correct, there is something very wrong in the Senate. It has nothing to do with being limited to yammering on for only 10 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Phil, you are leaving the impression that Begich would not be this assertive. Senator Begich did the exact same thing first. The only difference was that he relented when it was pointed out that there was no one else waiting to speak and therefore time was irrelevant.
The correct title might be: "What DID Sen. Mark Begich Do?"

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 5:49 am - thanks for the link! I was unaware of it. looking for a youtube.

Kat said...

So was the exchange between Begich and Cornyn what was referred to when telling McCain that he was wrong in someone being denied more time speak having never happened before?

Wow, I think I may have even confused myself with that question.

During the spat between Franken and Lieberman/McCain, another senator mentioned that this kind of exchange had taken place a short time ago. Was the Begich/Cornyn thing what they were talking about? If so, did it take place that same day or was it on a different day?

Anonymous said...

Best of all, we now find out that McCain did the same thing himself, cutting off overtime comments in 2002!

Ironic, in a predictable kinda way...


Anonymous said...

The whole episode is being mischaracterized.

Neither Begich or Franken were 'asserting themselves'.

The order to hold the time to the alloted 10 minutes came down from Reid.

In each case, it was Reid who was asserting himself, Franken and Begich were merely following the orders of Reid.

So, before you attempt to herald Begich's 'assertiveness', know that Begich wasn't, and Franken wasn't, acting on their own initiative.

This non-starter is typical to too much media coverage and blog coverage, neither the media nor the bloggers have framed this anywhere close to representing the reality of what actually transpired.

Phil simply stretches the reality in his desire for some way to hang some praise on Begich, so steering a narrative version of events, (which conveniently ignores the reality behind the action), seems to paint a picture of Begich as having some balls and deciding to stand up to the Repugnants.

The actuality is that Begich was ordered to act, he did nothing on his own initiative, he was handed his marching orders and the best that can be said is that he followed the orders of his superior, and at that, only to a minimal degree, as is demonstrated by his eventual reneging on the limitation.

Faint praise at best, phil. I'm not saying Begich is worthless, but he's not done anything to warrant the manufactured persona you've tried to assign to him.


akglow said...

Here is one link I found: