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Now Presiding: Barack Obama

One job of the Senate majority party is to "preside" over the chamber, which means all senators-- and especially the junior ones -- put in time sitting on a raised dais, banging for order, making sure time is used fairly, and so on. The yearly schedule is set in January. This afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) emerged for the first time since the Democratic debate to take a turn.

He showed up prepared for boredom, with a copy of the most recent New Yorker, a black folder stuffed with unread emails and memos, and a cheat sheet to guide him through potential parliamentary complexities. After uttering a few legislative formalities, Obama announced a roll-call vote.

Settling back in his chair while his colleagues streamed in, he picked up the magazine and flipped to the very last inside page, to the cartoon caption contest (during a previous presiding stint, Obama doodled several of his colleagues. The drawing raised $2,000 for charity on eBay). He turned to a review of the movies "Sunshine," about a group of astronauts, and "Moliere," about the French playwright.

A procession of senators approached to chat, including Sens. Joe Lieberman, Patty Murray, Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy. A staffer placed a note before him that read, "you have three books in your office to sign for me. It would be great if you could do it before tomorrow." The signature was unreadable. Obama picked up the black folder at one point and flipped through a few pages, then closed it and set it down. Then he returned to the magazine, perusing "Body Count," a review of a new Danish murder novel about office politics, and "Dean of Death Row," about a long-time San Quentin prison official.

After he announced the 52-44 result, at around 6 p.m., the Democratic candidate gathered his materials and left the chamber. One of the four senators who missed the vote: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

--Shailagh Murray

By Susan Glasser  |  July 25, 2007; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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That's very interesting that Hillary wasn't able to make it. Perhaps she was busy chatting with her buddies from Wal-Mart.

Posted by: jcherson | July 26, 2007 2:32 AM | Report abuse

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