The Senate can actually be a very collegial place at times of personal tragedy. And sometimes it can be quite touching.
Just one example: Two senators took to the Senate floor this afternoon to extend their thoughts and prayers to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., directly just in case he was watching on C-SPAN 2 from Massachusetts General.
"If Ted happens to be watching on C-SPAN, I want him to know that all of his brothers and sisters in the Senate are thinking, cheering, and praying for him," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM, haltingly, "I came here to say some words to my good friend, Senator Kennedy, and his family. We heard the early news and then we heard the late news which — in which you’ve described as being a little bit more ill than we thought. and i just want to say now and to your family that as a fellow Senator from the other side of the aisle, I wish for you the best and hope that the Good Lord intends for you to get well so you can come back and accomplish some more things and so you and I can have some more arguments and so you and I can have red faces when you argue and I argue, and my wife calls up and says, ‘You’re both arguing so much that your faces are so red, nobody will listen to you.’
"That happened once and I did communicate to Senator Kennedy that my wife told me I was getting too red in the face because I was yelling, and I asked her, ‘What about Senator Kennedy?’ And she said, ‘Well, that’s not your business, but he’s yelling too much too.’
"So I told him that and he had a big laugh. and I wanted to say to him that this great, big bill that we’re working on — parity for the mentally ill by the insurance companies of America, about a six-year project of his and mine — the House sent us back the bill today, Senator Kennedy, believe it or not.
"After all these days we’ve been wishing that we’d get something, they sent us that bill today. They didn’t send us exactly our bill, so who knows how much longer we’ll have to work at it, but this one big bipartisan bill that you started helping me with when I was in the majority, we haven’t got it there yet but we will. It’s been a pleasure working with you on that and many other things.
"But most of all, I came to the floor knowing that it’s not easy to get ahold of you — and I don’t intend to try to bother anybody — but at least in the Senate, we are free to speak and so I’m speaking how I feel, that I hope you get well and I hope the dear Lord blesses you.
"And to your wonderful wife, who I’ve known not as well as I know you but what a nice lady she is. On behalf of Nancy and I, we say to her, we hope everything goes the very best it can and you’re in the best of care and that’s what you should have, and we hope you get well."