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I just want to say up front that I'm a major fan of Lawrence Susskind and Jeffrey Cruickshank's new book, Breaking Robert's Rules: The New Way to Run Your Meeting, Build Consensus, and Get Results, and the theory of consensus-building and interest negotiation underlying it. Anyone who needs to accomplish things in meetings should buy and read it.
They should not, however, pay any attention to the third new paragraph on page 13:
"Even the most cynical of logrolling politicians understands that decisions by deliberative bodies are more likely to stand up to scrutiny -- of whatever kind -- if the reasons behind those decisions are fully aired, in a public discussion."
I'm not sure if this dream of deliberative democracy ever was true, but it ain't now. Starting with Dick Cheney's ultra-secretive energy task force in 2001, the current administration and its Congressional enablers have shown no interest in airing the reasons behind their decisions. They understand that deliberative bodies make so many decisions that they can evade scrutiny most of the time. And, as in the case of the shameful Military Commissions Act signed by Bush October 17th and already being used to keep suspects in jail with no right of appeal, they're doing their best to prevent scrutiny from happening at all.
(More on Congressional hyperpartisanship from Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute here.)