I'm not really that cynical, but it's hard to read something like this description of the House "debate" over the Iraq resolution, without wanting to describe Congress as a place where the emptiness of the rhetoric is matched only by the emptiness of the chamber.
The House, as it customarily does, will spend the first half-hour or so of the day hearing one-minute speeches from various members. This practice is, in part, a function of the C-Span era. [...]Imagine how different things would be if no one was allowed to speak from the House floor without a quorum of members present.
What's funny, though, is that the one-minute speeches are almost indistinguishable from the actual debate over Iraq. In both cases, members take turns speaking past each other in front of an almost completely vacant chamber [...]
First up for today's one-minute speeches-- unsurprisingly to anyone who's watched the House for more than day -- was Ted Poe, a second-term Republican from the Texas Gulf Coast who can thank Tom DeLay's map-making for his election in 2004.
Poe is typical of an unfortunately large number of House members-- he seems more excited about delivering one-minute commentaries and special orders speeches (untimed speeches broadcast on C-Span after the House has wrapped for the day) than in actually performing the duties of a congressman. Typically, he uses his floor speeches to rail against immigrants, gay people, and the moral decay of America-- all punctuated by what he evidently thinks is a clever trademark sign-off: "And that's just the way it is." [...]
This morning, Poe used his one-minute speech to talk about Iraq, declaring that "this resolution is good news for the terrorists and bad news for the troops." Inflammatory as they were, those words, of course, will have absolutely no impact on the final vote. It's doubtful anyone in the chamber was even listening. Not that Poe cares. His game is to catch the ear of the media, and maybe end up with his sound bite on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.