By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2007, 1:50pm PT  

As previously mentioned, we've received some comments from Nancy Pelosi's office in reply to our initial editorial and subsequent follow-up calling on Congressional Democrats to assert the branch's co-equal powers by allowing Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) to give his State of the Union Response Address to the full joint session of Congress. That, instead of relegating the response to the usual, audience-free, less-than-impressive, impossible-to-compete, unlevel playing field of a makeshift TV studio somewhere.

In a conversation yesterday with the office, I was told there were no "Constitutional issues" to keep Webb from addressing the full joint session as some callers to Pelosi's office, encouraging her to allow it, may have been told. And, in fact, the aide I spoke to, speaking on background, felt the idea was "brilliant" and it might be something to consider for next year. This year, however, the logistics would make it impossible at this late date.

I'd admit to still being somewhat unclear on exactly what the logistical problems would be. It seems that it would simply be a matter of keeping the joint session open after Bush is finished and giving the podium to Webb and allowing him to give his address to the assembled members and officials. Logistical issues concerning Secret Service sweeps and such surrounding a POTUS visit being an issue handled separately.

However, I'm told there is some form of joint resolution that is passed by both chambers each year to allow for the President's address to Congress and perhaps it is that resolution which would need to be amended to allow the floor to stay open after the intial SOTU speech has concluded.

In any case, here is the official statement as emailed from Pelosi's communication director, Brendan Daly, which seems to close the door on the matter for this year. Unfortunately...

"As Speaker Pelosi has said, Senator Webb understands personally how crucial it is to begin to bring the war to a close. While the logistics of having Senator Webb give the Democratic Response in the Chamber tonight make it impossible at this late date, he will be addressing the American people directly from the Capitol and he will speak with authority for all Democrats in committing to a New Direction here and abroad. His strong voice will be heard."

My call never actually referenced the war one way or another, of course. Rather, it spoke to a way that Congressional Democrats might re-assert their appropriate Constitutional powers, in all regards, in reply to the mandate they received from America last November. Moreover, it was also about Congress re-establishing the powers they've allowed the Executive Branch to usurp over the last six years. I'd have no problems if a Republican were allowed to give such a SOTU Response to the full chamber after a Democratic Presidential address in the future.

In any case, there you go. For now, it seems as if it won't be happening this year, unfortunately, despite what has been almost universal agreement that it would be a very good idea.

I can't help but be reminded of what one e-mailer wrote to me suggesting that Democrats may "need therapy." I'm not a psychotherapists of course, but they do seem to have a bit of "battered wife syndrome" when it comes to taking the reigns and asserting themselves on such matters. I doubt Republicans would have had any concerns or fears in doing something along these lines had it occurred to them in a similar situation.

Though to be completely fair, nobody from Pelosi's, or any other Congressional office, indicated to me that the matter had anything to do with "fear," but rather with "logistics" only. And on that point, I'll allow them the last word.

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