David Shribman

The Buffalo News - - OPINION -

Well, that’s a bit harsh, but only a wee bit. Yet that ex­cerpt from Oliver Cromwell’s 1653 speech, in which he de­scribed law­mak­ers as hav­ing “con­tempt of all virtue” and in which he dis­solved the fa­mous Rump Par­lia­ment, is not to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate for our time, three and three-quar­ter cen­turies later.

Be­cause of all the wretched ideas that have come out of Wash­ing­ton this year, the worst is the no­tion, first pro­posed by a pres­i­dent frus­trated with Capi­tol Hill’s paral­y­sis on health care and the Democrats’ suc­cess in block­ing his ap­point­ments, that Congress should stay in Wash­ing­ton rather than dis­perse for its sum­mer hol­i­day.

There is some po­etic jus­tice in mak­ing the mem­bers of the House and Se­nate sit and swel­ter in the cap­i­tal’s re­lent­less Au­gust heat and to la­bor un­der the re­morse­less blan­ket of hu­mid­ity that de­scends on the city. And it is well known that Congress only acts un­der ex­treme dead­line pres­sure, which would of course be am­pli­fied by the pe­cu­liar sort of ex­treme cli­mac­tic tyranny that only the Fed­eral City can pro­vide.

I ad­mit, it is an ap­peal­ing thought. But Cromwell’s in­dict­ment that “ye are grown in­tol­er­a­bly odious to the whole na­tion” and his ver­dict that “you were de­puted here by the peo­ple to get griev­ances re­dressed [and] are your­selves be­come the great­est griev­ance” are the very rea­son mem­bers of Congress should go on va­ca­tion.

The Founders wor­ried that mem­bers of Congress might drift far from the pub­lic, its sen­ti­ments and in­ter­ests, a con­cern that po­lit­i­cal fig­ures

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