'Speed Reader' latest Democratic gimmick

When you're as small a minority in the House as the Republicans are, your legislative strategies come more out of Roberts Rules of Order rather than The Prince.

And one of the minority's most effective strategies has been to use every trick in the book to stall, delay, and otherwise throw a monkey wrench into the plans of the Democrats. One strategem is to force the House clerk to read aloud bills and amendments. The process can be stopped if the Democrats can get "unanimous consent" to dispense with the reading of the bill but of course, the GOP never gives that, always objecting.

Such tactics can annoy the majority to no end. In order to combat that tactic, the Democrats have taken the extraordinary step of hiring a "speed reader" who would be able to shorten the time spent reading any legslation considerably.

Here's a video of the Speed Reader in action:


CNN's Political Ticker has the story:

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce committee, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, has been threatening to force the committee clerk to read the 900-plus page bill as a way to drag out the markup of the Democrats' climate change legislation. Worried that this could jeopardize his goal of voting the bill out of committee before the Memorial Day break, Democratic Chairman Henry Waxman of California hired a speed reader, in case one was needed to publicly race through the massive bill.

Barton decided not to follow through on his threat - but he wanted to find out what a speed reader sounded like. He requested that one of the Republican amendments be read in full, and asked that the new hire take over for the full time committee clerk. Waxman obliged, and Douglas Wilder sat before the committee and began reading rapidly. He spoke so quickly it was impossible to decipher his words, as listeners began to laugh and applaud.

Barton decided he'd heard enough, and said he didn't need to finish. He then joked with Waxman, that since he went to all that trouble, "we should at least get the benefit of the gentleman's expertise." Smiling, Waxman asked Wilder to state his name and asked if he was available for hire. Wilder enthusiastically told the committee: "yes!"

There is no chance the GOP will force the reading of a 900 page bill. The Democrats would find a particularly nasty way to get back at them. Considering the range of options open to the Dems to do just that, Republicans will probably let sleeping dogs lie.

Since none of them are going to read the bill anyway, maybe they should all be forced to sit through at least one reading of it just so the people are satisfied that if Congress is going to ruin the economy by passing this monstrosity, the least that should be required of them is that they be forced to hear what they are voting on.