Just quickly, I did oversimplify that point. Yes, politics has always been a dirty business, but it was Newt and his ilk who codified it and condensed it to its current toxic form. Up until the 1980s, Congressmen from both sides of the aisle spent a lot of time together. They ate lunch together in the Congressional cafeteria and they generally had cordial relations off the House floor (which helped to ease sticky legislation through in backroom meetings). But it was Gingrich and his supporters who started pushing backbenchers to stick to party lunches and to consider their opponents "the enemy" in all things. I don't think that there are very many Democrats or Republicans in Congress who maintain strong friendships now that the political class of Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch is retiring/dying (though Hatch fought off a potentially tough primary challenge by blatantly pandering to the far right in the last year).
actually the DEMS and REPs have been demonizing each other since well the beggining of your nation. it si Niave to think that this is relatively new. They did a survey here and found the guy l;eading the NDP (now deceased, evil cancer) who was constantly demanding a return to civility ion our house of commons was by far the most rude and insulting of all the politicians in parliment. I know its an aside but jsut pointing out this has been going on forever and peopel have been decrying it forever saying if only we could get back to the civility of yesteryear, unfortunately it never existed
So I think that I was half-right in saying that cordiality has disappeared from the halls of Congress since the current crop of Republicans came to power. Up until that point, most contentious floor debates were on the content of the bills, not on the content of the other side's character. Gingrich helped change all that with his list and general bomb-throwing mentality. Gingrich basically said that decorum and precedent didn't matter: The ends justify the means. So even if we abuse 100 year House and Senate rules to get what we want, it's okay. Because getting what we want is all that matters.
The filibuster and cloture rules in the Senate are archaic rules intended to slow truly egregious legislation that a significant portion of the Senate (the supposed "most deliberative body in the world") has problems with. It had become routine to use it (and secret holds) to stop any and all legislation from passing, even if that legislation ends up getting 96-0 votes once cloture is finally obtained. Cloture is designed to be invoked only rarely, but the Senate rules don't provide any limitations on it, so it could have been used the way that it currently is for the entirety of the rule's existence, but only now that they must obstruct "the enemy" from passing any legislation, no matter how trivial, it has become common place. The Dems should have modified the rules when they had the chance to try to bring it back to its original purpose, to slow down monumental legislation that really does need a second look, not for routine appropriations bills that gets passed almost unanimously after cloture passes. In particular, Republicans are using it right now to hold up all of Obama's appointments to various posts, even ones that they wouldn't find controversial in the slightest, just because they don't want the government to be able to do the job it is paid to do. I don't think any other President has had as few of his appointees passed (or failed) by the Senate as the President has because of Republican obstruction.