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End It Today, Ben

6:50 AM, Dec 18, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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There's a really big snowstorm coming to D.C.tonight. It would be unsafe to ask all the staffers and Hill employees who'd be needed at the Capitol if Congress stays open all hours this weekend, as Harry Reid intends, to drive to and from work--especially since many will have to do so at night, and they won't be well-rested. So from the point of view of public safety and personal well-being, Ben Nelson can do everyone a favor, announce today he won't vote for cloture, and let everyone stay home this weekend.

Furthermore, Harry Reid is maniacally insisting on a Christmas Eve vote on a bill whose final text no one has seen yet. So from a good government point of view, Nelson can say that he feels he has to be against cloture.

And of course there's no need to vote in December rather than January or February--it's just that Reid fears the already unpopular bill can't stand up to more public examination and debate. So from the point of view of respecting democracy and the American people, Nelson can insist that he needs time--once we have Reid's text--to go back to Nebraska and have some town meetings to let his constituents' voices be heard.

Finally, President Obama has had no more sincere well-wisher among moderate commentators than David Brooks. This morning, Brooks writes, "If I were a senator forced to vote today, I'd vote no. If you pass a health care bill without systemic incentives reform, you set up a political vortex in which the few good parts of the bill will get stripped out and the expensive and wasteful parts will be entrenched." (President Obama, in Copenhagen, reportedly just said, "If I've lost David Brooks, I've lost enlightened America.")

So public safety, good government, democracy, and David Brooks all argue for Ben Nelson saying today that we'll all benefit from a nice holiday break during which we can talk with the American people and recharge our batteries, and that he looks forward to seeing everyone in the New Year.