THE PLANK DECEMBER 18, 2009
Bill Kristol is deeply concerned about the diving safety of Congressional staff:
There's a really big snowstorm coming to D.C.tonight. It would be unsafe to ask all the staffers and Hill employees who'd be needed at the Capitol if Congress stays open all hours this weekend, as Harry Reid intends, to drive to and from work--especially since many will have to do so at night, and they won't be well-rested. So from the point of view of public safety and personal well-being, Ben Nelson can do everyone a favor, announce today he won't vote for cloture, and let everyone stay home this weekend.
For his concern, Kristol has been receiving a great deal of liberal mockery. But I have no doubt the conviction is sincere. Imagine a reverse scenario: The Iraq war resolution is facing an extended, down-the-the wire battle in an environment of deepening public skepticism. The best chance to pass the resolution, both sides agree, requires keeping the Senate in session through a snowstorm. Would Bill Kristol favor the holding of this vote? Of course not. He would argue for postponing the vote, even if it meant that the resolution might be more likely to fail.
Kristol is a man of ideas, not some hack who marshals any available argument that serves his political ends. If Kristol says that minimizing potential driving difficulties of Congressional staff ought to be the first-order principle of the health care debate, we should take him at his word.