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.