August 10, 2008

THE STARK CONTRAST BETWEEN REFORMIST RHETORIC AND HACK REALITY:

McCain and Obama's Senate Clashes (David Broder, 8/10/08, Real Clear Politics)

On the other hand, there were few direct personal clashes. Both of them remembered only two -- the same two.

The first occurred in February 2006. Obama had joined members from both parties in a group organized by McCain to draft bipartisan legislation on ethics and lobbying reform, after McCain's hearings on the Jack Abramoff scandal. But when other Senate Democrats decided to write their own bill, Obama aligned himself with them.

McCain told me, "He went off and voted with (Minority Leader) Harry Reid on the Democratic substitute. And I wrote him the now famous letter."

The letter he sent Obama began with this stinging sentence: "I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere." It continued, "I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics, I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble."

Obama wrote back that he had "no idea what has prompted your response." He told me the other day: "That was one incident where he thought I had undercut him. I had a completely different view of it."

The second occurred in June 2007, during Senate floor debate on the immigration bill. One key piece of the bill authorized a guest-worker program, which was unpopular with unions, who saw the immigrants as threats to their jobs. McCain told me that Obama had become part of a bipartisan group, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy and himself, whose members understood "we had to take tough votes, sometimes against the majority of our own party, in order to preserve the coalition." But when an amendment was offered to "sunset" that part of the bill after five years, it was viewed as a "killer amendment."

"Obama went out and voted with the unions," McCain told me. McCain and Kennedy lost by one vote.


No wonder some on the far Right like him, having spiked immigration and lobby reform....

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2008 9:36 AM
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