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By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
Topic - Norman J. Ornstein
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's death last week ended the more than 50-year reign of the Senate "lions" — a select group of iconic, long-serving members whose presence connected the chamber to some of the most important events of the past half-century.
While Republicans rarely brought up former President George W. Bush at their convention last week, Democrats gleefully have paraded him through theirs, saying he left President Obama a mess he's still working to clean up.
To many Washington outsiders, congressional ethics is an oxymoron or fodder for late-night comedians, but watchdogs and longtime Washington observers point to one hopeful sign — an office they believe is helping members take ethics rules more seriously.
President Obama has distanced himself from the congressional supercommittee — politically and geographically — in a strategy aimed at avoiding political risk rather than putting his leadership on the line for a long-shot deal, analysts say.
Republicans stand to be the political winners coming out of the 2010 national census, as congressional redistricting will likely make the "average" lawmakers slightly more conservative while cementing GOP control of the House of Representatives, a panel of electoral experts predicted Monday.
Three months after Senate leaders reached a gentlemen's agreement aimed in part at clearing a backlog of judicial nominations, the chamber is on pace to confirm more nominees in 2011 than in several years.
Newly minted Republican lawmakers who stormed state legislatures with vows of fixing the economy and controlling spending also are tackling social issues, such as gun laws and immigration, with minimal Democratic resistance.
The public panned it. Republicans obstructed it. Many Democrats fled from it. Even so, the session of Congress now drawing to a close was the most productive in nearly a half-century.
"For a lot of people coming in (now), the institution is a vehicle for getting policies they prefer, or even a place where you can be a big shot," Mr. Ornstein said.
"This was not a guy who sought the spotlight, who was eager to go on 'Meet the Press' or 'Face the Nation' every weekend," Mr. Ornstein said. "He was an inside player."