Secret Santa in the Senate: The wisecracks

A bipartisan gift exchange might not bring Republicans and Democrats any closer together, but it's good for a few laughs

After a tough year, the Senate could use a pick-me-up: Maybe that's why Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) helped organize the Senate's first-ever Secret Santa gift exchange.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In a bid to spread some Christmas cheer among warring Democrats and Republicans, Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) have organized the Senate's first "Secret Santa" gift exchange. Fifty-eight senators have signed up, 21 Republicans and 37 Democrats. Johanns tells Reuters the exchange could ease tensions on Capitol Hill, although he doesn't "have any great expectations that we will suddenly fix Medicare and Social Security and the budget." That may be true, but the gimmick did give political commentators a fresh, much-appreciated reason to ridicule Congress. Here, a sampling of the snark:

It's a Christmas miracle!

This is big, big news, says Joseph Morton at the Omaha World-Herald. Both sides agreed to cough up no more than $10 for these gifts, which means that "Senate Republicans and Democrats have finally reached an iron-clad, bipartisan agreement to cap spending."

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Wait until you see the gifts

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) won't need to shop extensively to find that special something for the Republican on his list. "It doesn't take long to get a lump of coal," he tells the World-Herald.

At least this will provide another occasion to laugh at Congress

"After an acrimonious year of arguing over taxes and spending, and an almost-government shutdown, the Senate is going to need a lot more than 10-buck Best Buy gift cards to mend itself," says Nicole Fabian-Weber at The Stir. "Will it fix the Republic? Nah. But those photo-ops of all those clowns in reindeer ears and Christmas sweaters will be priceless."

It's Congress. Somebody's going to go over budget

"There's a $10 gift limit," says Jim Newell at Gawker, "but you just know that Lieberman's going to break the rules and buy someone a Mercedes, like an ass."

Sign me up for the Fed's gift swap

"I wish our senators all the best in their attempt to manufacture Christmas cheer," says Jason Linkins at The Huffington Post, "but what I'd really like to know is how I can get hooked up with the Federal Reserve's 'Secret Santa' exchange, which seems much, much cooler." Those guys give their banker buddies billions.

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