Matthew Yglesias has a couple of good posts on the nihilistic cesspool that is the Senate:
A persistent liberal failure in terms of legislative tactics seems to me to be the repeated belief that if you try to make a compromise proposal, that the compromise will be adopted and then you’ll get half a loaf. The reality of the way the legislative bargaining process works, it seems to me, is that you make a proposal and then a bloc of moderate legislators demands concessions. Whatever you propose, you then have to make concessions since the moderates wouldn’t be moderate if they didn’t make the liberals make concessions. So you might as well have had the bill start with a sweeping expansion of abortion rights—require that all Exchange plans offer a full suite of reproductive health services. Then you start bargaining.And this one on the devious practice of the "hold:"
So now it’s Senator George LeMieux of Florida’s turn to screw things up with a hold.I've often regretted that the Democrats didn't allow Cheney to destroy the filibuster. A parliament would be a much better setup, but we're stuck with the Senate, so we have to make do with what we have.
Neither DeMint nor LeMieux invented the abuse of the hold procedure, but the Republican Party of the 111th congress has taken this to such new heights that it’s about time the Senate take some responsibility and start organizing itself like a legislative body of an important country and not like a country club. The ability for one senator to delay confirmation of key executive branch personnel indefinitely for no real reason has never been a good idea. At times, this power has been abused to advance policy goals I believe in. Oftentimes it’s used to advance bad policy goals. More recently, it just seems to be being used as a matter of principle—maximum feasible obstruction. It needs to be changed.