[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/john.avlon.art.jpg caption="CNN independent analyst John Avlon says partisanship is trumping principle and eclipsing patriotism in government." ]
Special to CNN
This week, Washington combined high stakes poker and parliamentary procedures with health care reform in the balance. And despite more than a year of heated debate, the American people remain deeply divided on the issue – the only thing they seem to agree on is that D.C. is dysfunctional. A new poll shows Congress with a 17% approval rating.
Part of the reason is an epidemic of situational ethics: politicians reversing supposedly principled stands depending upon whether or not their party is in power.
The most egregious example is support for reconciliation – a measure to ensure an up-or-down vote, bypassing the threat of a filibuster. Republicans have lately been conflating reconciliation with the closely related, controversial (and conveniently scary-sounding) “nuclear option.”
When Larry King asked Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, “what’s wrong with majority rules?” on LKL earlier this week, she replied: “Because that's not how the Senate works. The Senate works with 60 votes. And now, what the president is promoting is a nuclear option, which is 50 votes.”
But the so called “nuclear option” was invoked 5 years ago by Republicans when they accused Democrats of blocking President Bush’s judicial nominations via filibuster.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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