The U.S. Senate is a strange place, with bizarre rules - and even customs and traditions that are so strong they've got the force of law.
On the Senate floor on Saturday, Senator Ron Wyden thanked his colleagues for their concern as he begins treatment for prostate cancer:
Senators, let me thank all of you for your many kindnesses over the last 48 hours. When news about your prostate is ricocheting around the blogosphere, all the calls and notes and even offers to object on my behalf have meant a lot.
Yeah, "offers to object". Let the NY Times explain:
In some workplaces, a concerned co-worker might send a note, or even bake a casserole. But in the Senate, where business is conducted by the unanimous consent of all members, and where any one senator can hold up a piece of legislation, nothing is more precious –- or better represents the singular authority of a United States Senator -– than the ability to stand up on the floor, and declare to the presiding officer, “Mr. President, I object.”
But a senator cannot object to floor proceedings or vote from a sickbed (unless of course, the sickbed has been wheeled onto the floor –- which actually has happened in the Senate). And because senators cannot vote for each other, the offer to stand up and object on Mr. Wyden’s behalf was as sure a message of comradeship as a senator could express.
A strange place, indeed.
And best wishes to the Senator today. Here's to a speedy recovery.
(Hat tip to Hank Stern.)