Search results for the tag, "Senate"

January 25th, 2009

You Campaign With Clenched Fists. You Govern With Open Palms

The United States Senate in the Senate Chamber, 108th Congress, 2003

Mario Cuomo once said, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” To this maxim, we might add, “You campaign with fists. You govern with palms.” Lawrence O’Donnell, a former staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee and West Wing producer, explains:

“The politics of campaigning are so simple: I’m going to beat you and leave you dead in a snowbank in New Hampshire and never look back. But in the Senate you can be trying to prevail over another senator on Tuesday afternoon whose vote you know you’re going to need on Wednesday afternoon for something else. The ordinary work of the Senate never involves fighting.

“Virtually all the people who run for Senate seats lie and say they’re going to fight, but what they’re actually going to do—which they may not know when they go to Washington for the first time—is beg. And beg people like me, whom they’ve never heard of, the staff director of this or that committee, before they ever get to meet the chairman.

“So the personal qualities necessary for Senate work are politeness and charm and graciousness and generosity, which New York tabloids have no comprehension of. Why should they? The press is never allowed in the rooms where governance actually takes place.