A minor firestorm is burning around Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. A few days ago, Democratic Senators called Bunning out in a committee hearing for his filibuster on unemployment benefits. It was a clear breach of Senate protocol, and it's no surprise (particularly given Bunning's well-known short fuse) that he lost his temper.
Now it comes out that the unemployment bill includes a provision to increase Medicare payments for doctors, one of the (many) provisions that were going to be included in the health care reform bill in order to stave off opposition. Bunning's filibuster will result in an almost immediate 21% cut in these payments, TPM reports.
Today, reporters are claiming that Bunning flipped them off while attempting to take the Senators-only elevator to a floor session (reporters were being pretty rude by constantly stopping the elevator from closing after Bunning told them "no comment.)
All may be fair in love, war, and politics, but there is an important underlying motivation to all of this. Let's face it, Jim Bunning is an easy target. Republicans have been trying to push this guy out of the spotlight for a few years, and he finally announced his retirement a few months ago. He is a serious liability and few GOP members are going to defend him.
As such, he is the perfect target to educate the public about current problems with Senate procedures, specifically overuse of the "hold" and the lazy man's filibuster. With Bunning as their poster child, is this the moment when Senate Democrats finally start to move forward on reforming Senate procedures, and, just maybe, start moving Congress forward again?