Thursday, May 06, 2010

Secret Holds

There has been considerable chatter recently about the practice of a "secret hold" in the U.S. Senate, which is preventing numerous non-controversial Obama nominees (among other issues) from coming to a vote in the Senate. A group of senators, headed by Claire McCaskill of Missouri, is trying to put a stop to the practice (see Sen. McCaskill's recent article at Huffington Post).  Given that Missouri is the "Show Me" state, Sen. McCaskill's efforts are incredibly appropriate.  She's written a letter to the Senate leadership, signed by over 30 senators, pledging all the signers not to use secret holds.

It won't surprise anyone that none of these senators is a Republican.

I agree 100% with the good senator from Missouri.   Secret holds are a despicable and cowardly way to do the public's business.  They smack, frankly, of eight-year-old boys in a treehouse, with secret passwords and oaths.  "I'm going to stop the nation's business in its tracks," says the secret holder, "because I have reservations about this nominee or that bill; but - I don't have the cojones to put my name on it.  Why, if I put my name on it and somebody objected, I might not get re-elected!"

Do you people have NO idea how this looks from the outside??  Sen. McCaskill and her fellow signers obviously do.  I'd like to say that this practice is beneath the dignity of the U.S. Senate, except that the members of that body so obviously disagree.  "Secret" anything, with possible exceptions for genuine national security issues (and I have my qualms about that, given the abuses it has covered), is unsuitable for the governing body of a democracy.  The first question you ask about a "secret" is:  what are you people trying to hide??  If the answer is just, "who I am," that's not a reasonable excuse.  We elected you to use your judgment about the best way to govern this country, and now you're afraid to stand up and say what your judgment is.  

I think any senator who hasn't publicly pledged not to use the secret hold should have that used against him or her when re-election time comes.  Both my senators, I'm happy to say, have signed the pledge.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

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