It's Getting Ugly: Specter Accuses Reid Of Violating Decorum

There's a delicate snow falling on Washington today, and lawmakers are planning to light the Capitol Christmas tree in a bipartisan ceremony at dusk.

But inside the Senate chamber, they're at one another's throats as end of year gamesmanship heats up.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who's been known to get fired up in his own right, says Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) violated Senate rules yesterday when Reid said President Bush "is the man that's pulling the strings on the 49 puppets he has here in the Senate." Bush was blaming Senate Republicans for blocking an alternative minimum tax (AMT) package that also included some tax increases.

"I don't take it lightly and I don't think the other 48 of my colleagues take it lightly to be called 'puppets,'" Specter said. "... I really wonder if he [Reid] is up to the job when he resorts to that kind of statement which only furthers the leel of rancor and animosity with that kind of insulting comment."

Specter believes Reid violated Senate rules which state that no senator "directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."

That's a pretty wide prohibition on political insults, so it's not clear if the parliamentarian will actually rule whether Reid violated Senate rules with his "puppet" comment.