The Senate: Tidying the Toga

Viewed from the gallery, the U.S. Senate falls woefully short of its own billing as the greatest deliberative body on earth. Vital issues are very often resolved casually after pawky debates; speakers drone on in an echo chamber of vacant desks. Delay and confusion abound. Last week Senators tugged valiantly at their togas and amended the rule book in the name of statesmanly decorum.

Two new regulations strike deep at arcane devices dear to the Senate parliamentarians. Many members often feign forgetfulness about whether they voted aye or nay and interrupt roll calls to ask whether...

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