The extent of polarization is apparent.
The Senate’s eerily empty pro forma sessions this week and next have raised an age old question, with a twist: If a gavel bangs in the Senate and no one is around to hear it, does it still bang?
Yes, if you look at it from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s perspective. That gavel — banged once to open the Senate, twice to close it, and all within 30 seconds, as was the case Tuesday — is a boisterous defense against a potential sneak attack by President Bush on the Senate’s constitutional powers.
The sole intent of the pro forma session is to stop Bush from filling federal vacancies with recess appointments, which he can do if Congress is in — you got it! — recess.
When Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) strolled into the Senate chamber Tuesday at 9 a.m., turned on the lights (ok, a clerk did that for him), sat down in the presiding chair, looked out over a sea of empty desks, the Vietnam veteran — armed with nothing but a gavel — had but one mission: to pre-empt an enemy attack on the Senate.