If we had something like Prime Minister’s Questions, Rand Paul wouldn’t have had to hold it for 13 hours

Rand Paul 2011

Matthew Feeney at Reason writes:

The recent filibustering of John Brennan’s nomination to the CIA by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was not only an entertaining and refreshing change to the usual proceedings on Capitol Hill, it also highlighted a deficiency in the American political system, namely that the president does not appear before legislators to take questions. While Rand Paul’s filibuster was an impressive physical and mental feat, I can’t help but think some time would have been saved if we somehow managed to introduce some parliamentary combativeness to the proceedings on Capitol Hill.

Every Wednesday at noon the British prime minister appears before the House of Commons to take questions from members of parliament. The leader of the opposition is granted a certain number of questions every session, and the speaker of the House of Commons calls on other members of parliament (who indicate they would like to ask a question by standing). The practice is part of British political culture and provides an element of theater to British politics that despite at times seeming childish does require that the prime minister be prepared to publically [sic] defend his government’s policies in front of hundreds of unsympathetic colleagues.

‘Tis a familiar refrain.

6 thoughts on “If we had something like Prime Minister’s Questions, Rand Paul wouldn’t have had to hold it for 13 hours

  1. PM says:

    Of course, if we had Prime Minister’s questions, we’d have a Prime Minister, and a parliamentary system of government, and all we would need to enact laws would be a simple majority (not like in the US Senate) and a victory in the Presidential elections would guarantee a majority in the House and ……..

    But, yes, there are times when it would be nice…..

  2. Let it be known here, that I am hereby offcially agreeing with the Reason Foundation about something.

    I’d love to see a President voluntarily do regularly scheduled questions sessions with Congress. It would be healthy for our democracy for the public to be able to observe a more free-flowing exchange between the branches of government and the parties, instead of evertything being so scripted and orchestrated. It would also be good for Rand Paul’s bladder, something that is always on my mind.

    A quesitons session would be good for the country, but would it be politically advantageous for a President to agree to do this? For a bright, engaging, personable and nimble communicator like Obama, I bet he would help himself more than he would hurt himself, though over time he would do some of each.

    Agreeing to do this would be a political risk, though, so a President would have to do this over the objections of his risk averse handlers.

  3. Jeff says:

    I live a stones throw from Canada, and listen to CBC radio. It’s the same story with the Canadian Parliament. Yes, agreed; would love to see our Pres. in Q & A with the senate.

  4. Erik Petersen says:

    Having given an accurate name, an accurate email, and having participated with civility, I have a proper expectation that my posts will be approved. I’ll also be audacious enough to say also that PM, Jim Leinfelder, Mike Kennedy, Dennis Lang, Bertram, et al, can stand my participation. It is my request that you disable moderation.

    1. PM says:


      First, I have to say you have been much better since the new moderation process has been put in place. Of course, your prior behavior was one of the main reasons that the moderation policy was changed.

      Obviously, I am not speaking for the powers that be, nor am i in charge of the moderation policy, but I am pretty certain that the specific aspect of your behavior that was causing problems here were the ad hominem attacks that you were making constantly on Brian Lambert. It was not your policy disagreements, which you sometimes stated cogently and in interesting ways–it was the personal vituperation and animus that you displayed.

      Yes, I think that you often have interesting and knowledgeable things to say, but far too often they have been overshadowed by petty, mean and nasty personal attacks–which have contributed nothing to the debate. In short, you were behaving like a troll.

      The problem you have is how to convince the powers that be that you will no longer behave like a troll. Sure, you haven’t behaved like one recently, but that is because your comments (and mine, and others) have been subjected to moderation. If there is no more moderation, how will you behave?

      What can you do to convince the powers that be (including Brian Lambert) that you will not behave like a troll in the future? It isn’t that the powers that be (including Brian Lambert) just want to silence opposing voices (Bertram gets through, after all). It is just that no one likes a troll.

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