THE PLANK JULY 31, 2008
Ezra Klein makes a valuable point:
Congress gets far less attention in the media than it deserves. Over at
RealClearPolitics, the day's headlines include 12 articles about the
presidential campaign, and only one about Congress. And the one about
Congress is "Sex Trumps Corruption on Senate Sin List." ... [T]hough liberals spent the last few years finding that the president
stood in the way of their agenda, if Obama is elected, they'll quickly
find that fissures and divisions internal to the institution are the
primary roadblock to change.
I do try to blog about developments in Congress as much as possible--like, say, the bill to extend tax credits for renewable energy that succumbed to a Republican filibuster in the Senate yesterday, jeopardizing growth in the industry at a time when we should be significantly expanding support for it. But, frankly, outside of Washington, I'm just not sure how much of a market there is for any coverage of Congress besides scandals and the occasional huge, easy-to-understand policy fight, like health care in 1993 or Social Security in 2005.
This contributes hugely to Congress's approval ratings being chronically in the toilet: It's the epitome of an organization that gets noticed only when things don't go smoothly. And the institutional architects of Congress specifically designed it to ensure that things usually wouldn't go smoothly. Granted, I'm not sure they envisioned quite the level of dysfunction and gridlock that's characterized the last few years, but they surely would have preferred it to the alternative of an impulsive Congress unconstrained by many veto points.
Update: It's also worth noting that whatever else one wants to say about David Broder, he's one of the better journalists out there on this front.