John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain Savages Barack Obama

Now this is fun.

An outraged Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) today called Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) insincere and partisan, suggesting the Illinois freshman as much as lied in private dicussions the two had about ethics reform last week.

Obama sent McCain a letter asking him to cosponsor the Democratic proposal on ethics reform rather than appointing a task force on the issue.  McCain's response is one of the single most bitter, nasty letters I have ever seen from any Senator.  It's rather remarkable, actually, and gives the lie to the notion that McCain is of a bipartisan mind.

I'm having trouble opening the PDF of McCain's letter, so I'll take the text from Marc Ambinder and Patrick Ottenhoff's well-written blog post.

"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. ... I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interept your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in political 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."

Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, called McCain's letter "confusing" and "headscratching." He said Obama "remains committed" to reform and will work with "any Republican and Democrat" who is serious about the issue. His letter to McCain, said Gibbs, signaled his preference "to get legislation through committee, rather than wait for a task force."

In his letter, McCain says that his task force proposal would ensure that meaningless or cosmetic reforms aren't rushed into law -- and that the solution in the end would reflect the interests of both parties and their voters.

His last line suggests that Obama will not soon regain McCain's favor.

Writes McCain, "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."

Bipartisanship is dead.  That's just true.  It's sad, but Republicans have become too partisan to work for the good of the country.  Voters will need to repair this at the ballot box in November.

Tags: Barack Obama, John McCain (all tags)



McCain a little weird?

I really do think McCain is a loose cannon, and not in the sense of "having his own ideas" but rather in the sense of "actually kind of nuts." I don't really see how this is a rational response to anything, I mean, even if McCain wanted to, say, sabotage the progressive wing of the party, this is a weird way to go about it.

by sdedeo 2006-02-06 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain a little weird?

yes, well, then, um, this does seem kind of crazy.  also keep in mind this isn't an outburst, this is an edited and planned letter.

by Matt Stoller 2006-02-06 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain a little weird?

Well, looking at it from McCain's perspective, it does seem pretty outrageous that the Democrats would try to make a campaign issue out of the fact that dozens of Republicans were on the take from a convicted felon.  Really, the sheer audacity of it.

What's really going on here is that McCain refuses to let the Democrats take credit for passing a lobbying reform bill.  If he had any critique of the merits of the Democratic bill, I'd be happy to take them seriously, but his only complaint seems to be that the Democrats refuse to look at Abramoff as a bipartisan scandal deserving of a bipartisan solution.

If I were Obama, my response would look something like "It's not that I don't want to sign onto the Republican proposal, it's just that I'm afraid the bill might be delayed if some of the sponsors get indicted."

by Steve M 2006-02-06 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain a little weird?

Dear Barack,

Or should I say BULLack! You suck! You know shit about the PS2 the games are for fagz xbox is teh only systemz you probably play barbie adventure what on it huh ethics committeee my ass suck you!

by sdedeo 2006-02-06 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain a little weird?

Well, look what the man's gotten away with:  In the run-up to the 2000 primaries McCain appeared at a Republican fundraiser that was televised on C-SPAN and told this joke, which no one on all of the TV shows he appears on has ever confronted him with:

"Why is Chelsea so ugly?   Because Janet Reno is her father."

(And I think it says something - something very bad - about Hillary Clinton that she's appeared publicly with McCain and smiling and yucking it up.

by Rowena 2006-02-06 03:34PM | 0 recs

I haven't seen national polls or anything, but I'd be willing to bet that one of the few politicians, if there are any, that are liked more nationally than John McCain is Barack Obama.

by Fran for Dean 2006-02-06 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain

That letter is so bizarre that I have to wonder if in fact it's genuine.


by billcoop4 2006-02-06 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain

Is the text of Obama's letter available anywhere, the one that somehow set McCain off?

by Steve M 2006-02-06 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain

I dug and found some more of the links and posted it to the echo chamber here.

by ltsply2 2006-02-06 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain

I'm sure this Sunday RNC chairman Ken Mehlman will be doing the talk shows going on about how angry Mccain is.

G.O.P. Chairman Goes on the Attack Against 'Angry' Clinton

The Extremist Rantings Of A Mainstream Progressive

by frizzle 2006-02-06 02:33PM | 0 recs
Mehlman and His Flying Pig

He'll be spreading the word on all the shows, thanks to his rapid transit flying pig.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-06 05:34PM | 0 recs
Will Obama Wake Up?

I wonder if this episode might wake Obama up to the fact that Republicans are at war with him and everything he claims to believe in.  Will he be so eager to spread the Republican talking points next time he appears on the Sunday talk shows?  Will he ever realize what is going on in America right now?

Could somebody at least try to tell him?

by James Earl 2006-02-06 03:35PM | 0 recs
I Was Hoping This Would Be A Blessing In Disguise

But given his response, it seems like Obama just doesn't seem to get it.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

Very, very wrong.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-06 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I Was Hoping This Would Be A Blessing In Disgu

What should he do? Escalate?

From his pleasantly puzzled tone and the fact that he rushed to get all these letters on his website (under the placid headline "McCain and Obama Exchange Letters," no less) it seems very clear to me that he gets it.

If Obama wasn't on board (finally) with making corruption a leading issue for Democrats, he wouldn't have written the lawyer that pissed McCain off in the first place.

by Steve M 2006-02-06 06:13PM | 0 recs
Of Course Not!

Escalation would be foolish. "Reform" is already a distraction, since the real issue here is the GOP breaking of laws already on the books.  A distraction from a distraction is the last thing we need.

What I'm looking for is not anything dramatic that plays into the Beltway soap opera.  I'm simply looking for a sign that Obama really gets what's going on.  So far, what I see is not highly encouraging.

Mildly encouraging, perhaps.  But he's said and done any number of things that have been more than mildly discouraging.  The balance is still far from tipping in the direction of him fulfilling his promise.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-07 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Of Course Not!

Concur. Obama is still very much a junior senator; in fact, this brings into sharp relief populism vs. action. In McCain's case, he is pursuing the philosophy of action.

But there is an issue which offers real reform: the rules change regarding riders to bills. This law would require congressmen to simply identify themselves for any anonymous pork barrel project they are trying to attach to a bill.

Obama seems strangely silent.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-02-08 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: I Was Hoping This Would Be A Blessing

McCain's very popular. If Obama had escalated the whole thing, he would have been seen as a partisan hack going after a moderate maverick. Obama took the high ground and it was a smart move.

by bluenc 2006-02-06 06:19PM | 0 recs
Life Has More Than Two Options

I know this may be difficult for you to grasp, grasshopper.  But life has more than two options. The choices aren't just escalation or "taking the high road," and what I was looking for had nothing to do with either of these options.  It had to do with indicating a deeper awareness of what the whole power play was about, and what lies beneath.

Obama's still trying to play a man above it all, and McCain's going to fight him tooth and nail for that label.  But the label itself is a lie, and worse, it's part of a larger structure of lies, which Obama seems perfectly willing to build his career on.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-07 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain
Rowena  the actual statement by McCain was
"Chelsea is proof that Bill Clinton and Janet Reno have sex."
You are right though...the fact that Hillary speaks to him says something.
by taxnspend 2006-02-06 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management

I think the anger is coming from the idea that the Democrats are stealing McCain's pet issue - reform- away from him. This is a guy who's basically staked his entire career on being the outsider who will clean up Washington. Now, it's his party getting indicted and canoodling with lobbyists, and the Democrats are running as reformers. It's got to chafe him.

by bluenc 2006-02-06 04:35PM | 0 recs
Full letters online
Obama's office has posted the letters between McCain and Obama here: n_obama_and_sen_mccain_exchange_letters_ on_ethics_reform/
by barkingmoose 2006-02-06 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain

But after bush insulted his wife in the SC primaries, he had no trouble giving him a big old hug. I lost all respect for him then.

by merlallen 2006-02-06 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: John 'I Need Anger Management Therapy' McCain

It wasn't his wife. And it wasn't Bush.

It was Karl Rove, and it was his daughter. They called people with a war dialer telling them that he'd fathered an illegitimate black child.

Cindy and he, had been pictured with their family and their adopted Indian daughter. Who happened to be born in Calcutta.

Some of us remember this event bitterly well.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-02-08 04:50AM | 0 recs
How to show McCain he's wrong

All readers of this blog should call McCain's office (202-224-2235) and demand that he apologize to Obama.

by racerx20854 2006-02-07 04:03AM | 0 recs


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