11 November 2006

A Modest Proposal For the Improvement of the Process by Which Committee Chairs Are Chosen

(update: edited for clarity, a few stinkers of sentences made less stinky, other stinkers remain for reasons of style)

The presumptive heads of the Senate and House, Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi both have major decisions to make in these weeks before all the new members are seated and the Democrats take over all the various congressional committees.

Seniority seems to me, to be about the lousiest way to choose which member sits atop which committee. In this modern age, we have a thirst for something better, something more meritorious, and above all something more entertaining.

I have one suggestion that ought to do the trick, and at the same time improve public knowledge of the various incoming committee chairs. That suggestion is a series of reality TV show competitions.

To show their commitment to improved government and bipartisanship, make these competitions open to all who wish to compete, Republican, Democrat and Independent alike. For each chair, create a competition that suits the flavor of that committee. I wouldn't object if the competitions were set up to favor the Democrats given that they earned the right to create the rules, but I'd expect the competitions to be fair enough that if a non-Democrat of outstanding talent were to trounce his or her competitors, then that person would be given the chair they earned.

There are plenty of talented people in Hollywood who would help in developing these competitions, surely those two foreigners, Mark Burnett and Simon Cowell would be willing to lend their genius to the cause of improving the governance of their favorite market.

The particulars of the various contests aren't important, and probably better decided by others than myself, but I do have a few suggestions.

First, for the Armed Services Committee in both the House and the Senate I suggest a boot camp style competition with an emphasis on marksmanship, stamina, mental agility, and a series of Counter-Strike style death matches to decide the winner. You may ask yourself what does fast twitch skills, marksmanship, stamina, et cetera have to do with heading that committee? I say they have everything to do with it. I want those committees headed by someone who could still be deployed in the field, and not some doddering fossil long past their prime.

Obviously for Appropriations there already is a model for the competition that best suits this committee, and that would be The Apprentice. I think The Donald would even be willing to get involved.

For Indian Affairs, a good old fashion hallucinogen fueled vision quest would be in order, and highly entertaining.

By now you get the drift of where this is going, a Project Runway style (with Heidi Klum, of course) showdown to decide who heads the Committee on Small Business and Entrepeneurship? Sounds good to me. Howabout a Survivor style showdown for Energy and Natural Resources? Seems like a good fit, after that experience they'd appreciate the proper management of energy and natural resources. The Amazing Race would be a natural for Foreign Relations.

This idea is too brilliant for the Democrats to actually adopt.

Too bad, it's their loss.

That's my very modest proposal, maybe if enough people bring this post to the attention of the Democratic leadership in Congress then they'll act accordingly, but I'm resigned to disappointment on the matter.

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