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