Tuesday, February 07, 2006

McCain to Obama

From McCain's Website:
"Washington D.C. – Today, Senator McCain sent the following letter to Senator Obama regarding ongoing Congressional efforts towards bipartisan lobbying reform. The following is the text from that letter:

February 6, 2006
The Honorable Barack Obama
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Obama:

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. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. 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. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.

As you know, the Majority Leader has asked Chairman Collins to hold hearings and mark up a bill for floor consideration in early March. I fully support such timely action and I am confident that, together with Senator Lieberman, the Committee on Governmental Affairs will report out a meaningful, bipartisan bill.

You commented in your letter about my “interest in creating a task force to further study” this issue, as if to suggest I support delaying the consideration of much-needed reforms rather than allowing the committees of jurisdiction to hold hearings on the matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The timely findings of a bipartisan working group could be very helpful to the committee in formulating legislation that will be reported to the full Senate. Since you are new to the Senate, you may not be aware of the fact that I have always supported fully the regular committee and legislative process in the Senate, and routinely urge Committee Chairmen to hold hearings on important issues. In fact, I urged Senator Collins to schedule a hearing upon the Senate’s return in January.

Furthermore, I have consistently maintained that any lobbying reform proposal be bipartisan. The bill Senators Joe Lieberman and Bill Nelson and I have introduced is evidence of that commitment as is my insistence that members of both parties be included in meetings to develop the legislation that will ultimately be considered on the Senate floor. As I explained in a recent letter to Senator Reid, and have publicly said many times, the American people do not see this as just a Republican problem or just a Democratic problem. They see it as yet another run-of-the-mill Washington scandal, and they expect it will generate just another round of partisan gamesmanship and posturing. Senator Lieberman and I, and many other members of this body, hope to exceed the public’s low expectations. We view this as an opportunity to bring transparency and accountability to the Congress, and, most importantly, to show the public that both parties will work together to address our failings.

As I noted, I initially believed you shared that goal. But I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party’s effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness. Again, I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn’t always a priority for every one of us. Good luck to you, Senator.


John McCain
United States Senate "


dcat said...

Wait, so if I am reading this right, Obama makes assurances (of course we only can see one side of this because it is not Obama making this a public discussion) then shows McCain the courtesy of going to him to explain that he is withdrawing, then McCain makes a putatively private letter to Obama public, and it is Obama who is somehow using this issue for political advantage? This is rich. It is nice to see McCain willing to play dirty and be smarmy. Too bad he did not show the willingness to do this in South Carolina in 2000.


Anonymous said...

I think you are reading this the wrong way.

I think it is more like Obama LIED to McCains face when he told him he was interested in fixing the problem, not exploiting this for partisan gain.
Then when Obama got offered a chance for personal political glory, he backed out of working with the other side in a bipartisan way. At least Obama was polite in his letter, basically blowing off his previous offer to work with McCain, but McCain was also being polite in making sure that we the people got the story.

The question is whether Obama was sincerely wishing to fix the problem in the first place or whether he jumped ship when a better offer came along.

dcat said...

But who is to say that now Obama is not still interested in providing a solution to the problem? because he doers not do what McCain wants to do or does not buy into McCain's solution to the problem? Not to put too fine a point on it, but John McCain probably ought not to be lecturing anyone on ethics, least of all someone who has never been implicated in any ethical breaches, especially, say, the biggest banking scandal in American history. This stinks of demogoguery to me. I like McCain, but this is on the cheap and tawdry side.


Stephen said...

I think Obama is being pulled in many directions right now. His connections (and leaks) to journalists about his fellow Democrats are hurting him within the party. At the same time, many fellow Democrats are probably jealous of the attention he gets. I am guessing that his dealings with McCain might be the outward signs of Obama's problems with the rest of his party. This is, of course, just a guess based on rumors.

dcat said...

Stephen --
But probably not an inaccurate one. It is an aspect none of us necessarily like about politics, but if you have larger ambitions you have to be right with the party before you can branch out. I knew a lot more people who liked McCain and lieberman over Bush and Gore in 2000, but neither was right within their respective party, and kablammo! That was that.

I love onomatopeia.


montana urban legend said...

Which is precisely why McCain can get the kind of respect for sidestepping his party line that Obama, if Stephen and DCat are right, probably won't.

dcat said...

MUL --
You may be right. The question becomes, can McCain win in the primaries? Some states are making it less likely by removing possibilities that those who are not registered as Republicans can vote in their state primaries.
It's funny. I thought Smith v. Allwright had established that the parties are not private clubs that could choose to exclude people on a whim. I guess not.