The lights are on in the Capitol, but is anybody home this fine 29th of June?
The scrappy House is full of sound and noise, and not a little fury as they take floor votes. That's where the grand fight battleground is actually going on between the two parties for the future. As if to prove the point, The Washington Post ran a front page picture of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Monday, followed by a front page picture of Rep. Michele Bachmann, now a presidential contender, Tuesday. These two formidable women are in a way the generals, each with a partisan war plan of one's own.
It is rare for the Post to run two pictures of women as their lead photo, two days in a row, so something must be afoot. [Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.]
The energy of the House only underscores the enervation of the Senate. On that side of the Capitol, precious little is going on. The upper chamber is keeping bankers' hours. Some look like they wish they could just phone it in. They are not getting anything done. You would never know what party is in the majority (if you didn't know) because they are not as engaged (publicly, at least) as the House. If Nancy Pelosi is like the den mother of the House Democrats, fighting to regain power in 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is akin to an absent father. Across the aisle, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is quiet, but awake, signaling he is preparing for the huge debt ceiling limit showdown in August. [See editorial cartoons on the budget and deficit.]
Ouch. That's speaking for those of us who relied on the Senate to keep order in the House.
The Senate should snap out of its somnambulation. Either way, it promises to be a long, hot summer in Washington. But then they can look back and say they were in the fight of their time.
As for the president, I'll leave that subject for next time—President Obama's strange dance with Congress—once I get to observe more goings-on under the Capitol dome this week.
Corrected on 6/30/11: A previous version of this blog misstated Nancy Pelosi's title.