Somewhere, someone got the exact wrong message. Voters do not want bipartisanship at the expense of openness. They want an end to corruption and secret deals.
Senator Reid last week announced that he plans to hold a secret, bipartisan meeting on January 4th, so that the Democrats and Republicans could hash out their differences in secret. Voters, allegedly, were tired of “gridlock,” and “consensus” could be best “forged” out of the public eye.
This means that the first full session of the next Senate will be conducted out of the public eye. The protestations from all involved that no legislative business will be conducted only begs the question — what exactly will be go on in this 100-person clambake?
As several other papers and blogs have cried out, < ahref="http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061214/OPINION01/612140301/1014/OPINION">stop this crazy plan before it starts a new habit of closedness! (See, e.g., The U.S. Senate Wants to do WHAT?, Society of Professional Journalists President’s Blog)
The idea that Americans will be delighted that all 100 Senators will be meeting behind closed doors to figure out what they have in common is a little absurd. Its bad for democracy, and its stupid politically.
We have a long tradition of bipartisan pork-barrel rolling and a pretty solid tradition of bipartisan embracement of secrecy. But just because secrecy has traditionally been bipartisan, bipartisanship should not then become synonomous with secrecy.
The idea of a secret meeting must have sounded good at the time, “hey, if its in secret, we can all get along!” but it clearly wasn’t fully thought out. I trust Mr. Reid will go back to the drawing board and decide to kick off this next Congress by some other gesture — one that opens the doors, instead of closes them.