Debate returns to Washington

Having been in Washington now for 14 years, I have come to truly value the slow, deliberative nature of Congress.  People with diverse views are forced to come together to hash out a common way forward.  Tolerance, acceptance of difference is at the core of such a system, and required to make it work.  Of course we've had little of that in the Bush years.  Congress has acted as an irresponsible, braindead, corrupt, rubber stamp, allowing all sorts of nutty things to go on with little discussion, debate and oversight.  Committees did not meet.  Hearings weren't held.  The opposition party was dismissed rather than engaged.  This culture that allowed ideology to trump discourse, and debate to be seen as dissent, was one of the major reasons the Republicans went off track these past few years. 

We are already seeing the return of an engaged, deliberative Congress.  It will happen in big ways - the Reid/Pelosi challenge to the President on Iraq - an it will happen in many small ways, but the most dramatic and public way will be in Senator Joe Biden's four weeks of hearings on America's Middle East policy that start Tuesday.  The Senator plans to use his new power to help us better understand what to do; to engage the public in a vital debate about our future; to search, debate, discuss, discover; to call Administration officials to account for their words and actions; to admit that we do not know the best path, and want to, together, as Americans, find a better way. 

These hearings will be vital, important, difficult.  I can't wait for them to start, and welcome the return of messiness to our democracy.