Things I Didn’t Know, But Should Have

By Brian Beutler

Ted Kennedy’s been out of commission since he suffered a seizure at the inauguration. I’m not sure whether he’s in the hospital, or at home, but, as Mike Tomasky notes, barring a dramatic return to Capitol Hill, this means Democrats will need yet another Republican vote to achieve cloture on the stimulus.

All of which makes me wonder why, in the age of cellphones and email and cellphones that send emails, members of congress can’t vote in absentia. Or, alternatively, why they can’t appoint designees (chief counsels or chiefs of staff) who, in the event of illness or other emergency, could be sent instructions, given floor privileges and would then vote on their boss’s behalf. The instructions themselves could serve as passports of sorts, so that if a member hasn’t made his intentions clear he’d get no vote.

Is there an obvious objection to that?