Watching CSPAN2

A poor substitute for baseball, but it'll do. My friend Garth, a political junkie, called the other night to tell me there was a filibuster on the tube. So, I tuned in. Sen. Harry Reed (D-NV) had been on for seven hours. By the time I turned on the TV, he was reading from a book had written years ago about the town of Searchlight, Nevada. His purpose, of course, was to prevent any other business from taking place on the Senate floor.

So, he rambled on...interspersing readings from his book with musings about his favorite McDonalds meals, about how the animals were eating the cactus in his yard, and so on. He profusely thanked his "esteemed colleague" Sen. Byrd for advising him not to drink too much water lest he have to leave the floor to find a men's room, thus ending his filibuster.

The Republicans followed with a planned 30 hour filibuster marathon on judicial appointees. I think it ended this morning.

I had never seen a filibuster before. I wrote my master's thesis on Senator Wild Bill Langer of North Dakota, himself a noted a filibuster artist. In fact, it was the only thing he did well. (If you want to read my thesis on the matter, it is available at the Chester Fritz Library on the UND campus. I think six people have ever read it, and most of those are relatives. Please sign the guest list.) Langer used to read out of books about himself on the floor. When he got tired, he claimed medical disability and had the clerk read from the books. For hours. All of what was said had to be recorded in the Congressional Record.

Then, when I got back from Fargo late last night, I flipped on the tube, and there was Harry Reed again...three days later, still speaking to his esteemed colleagues. Of course, he hadn't been on the whole time between, but it gave me a jolt.

I enjoy politics most when it is as its most absurd. When they put television cameras in the chambers of the House and later the Senate, it got worse (better). I think every politician longs to be a television celebrity. The cameras massage their vanity, their false belief that somebody outside the chamber cares what they say. The result: Enough hot air to contribute to global warming.