The Breaking Point May Be Near
Thursday, April 20, 2006 :::
Sen. Tommy Norment took to the floor of that august chamber yesterday to upbraid the man on the dais, LTG Bill Bolling, for daring to side with the House on the budget. Here's how the TD described it:
As Bolling stood quietly at the podium from which he presides over the Senate, Senate Republican Floor Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. of James City County attacked Bolling for siding with the House in the budget fight.
Coming from the keyboards of Schapiro & Whitley -- no fans of Bolling -- this must have been quite a scene. And while Bolling, wisely, let Norment's tirade roll of his back, it must have taken a great deal of effort, considering some of the content:
Norment suggested Bolling's view is shortsighted; that having never served on the finance committee during his years as a Hanover County senator, Bolling does not fully grasp the complexity of the state's finances.
Norment said Bolling's alliance with the House Republican Caucus, an anti-tax redoubt, reflects a "much larger ideological debate [over] the appropriate fiscal governance of the commonwealth."
Norment went on to link Bolling with what Norment described as the "aberrant behavior of the House [which] would fracture the very foundation of the way we do business."
"Aberrant behavior." Hardly the sort of words that will win friends and influence people. But there was more. This is from the AP account:
Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. of James City County upbraided two fellow Republicans, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Sen. Kenneth Cuccinelli of Fairfax, for what he called breaches of the Senate's tradition of collegiality.
Bolling's offense, in Norment's view, was writing a column opposing the Senate's plan to raise taxes and supporting the House of Delegates' proposal to delay the issue of transportation funding until a special session in the fall.
"Nowhere is there a recitation about the repeated efforts that we in this Senate have made ... to try to get the dialogue going, to try to advance the ball down the field," Norment fumed. "I can't help but be just mildly chagrined when I read editorials and reports diametrically opposed to the position of the Senate."
Ah yes, what would a good snit be without bashing Sen. Cuccinelli, too? And to be fair to the Senate, they have tried to "advance the ball." But like the single wing offensive schemes of old, their moves are predictable and uni-directional...all toward higher taxes.
But Norment's outburst may indicate that the cracks in the Senate's facade are deeper than I thought. If Norment and his pro-tax colleagues were winning the argument, I doubt whether he would have made notice of the Bolling op-ed at all, let alone wag his finger at the LTG from the Senate floor.
There is also the rather amusing conceit in this exchange that because the Senate has decided something, Bolling has no right to say a word in opposition. Like a good house elf, Bolling should simply smile politely, say his lines and get off the stage. I find it refreshing -- and essential -- that he remains an advocate for his positions.
Here's hoping he does even more in the future.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 4/20/2006