Obama: No Flamewars in the Senate, Please

I just got an email from someone on Obama's staff.  Apparently Obama doesn't want a flame war.

February 6, 2006

The Honorable John McCain
United States Senate
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510

Dear John:

During my short time in the U.S. Senate, one of the aspects about this institution that I have come to value most is the collegiality and the willingness to put aside partisan differences to work on issues that help the American people.  It was in this spirit that I approached you to work on ethics reform, and it was in this spirit that I agreed to attend your bipartisan meeting last week.  I appreciated then - and still do appreciate - your willingness to reach out to me and several other Democrats.

For this reason, I am puzzled by your response to my recent letter.  Last Wednesday morning, you called to invite me to your meeting that afternoon.  I changed my schedule so I could attend the meeting.  Afterwards, you thanked me several times for attending the meeting, and we left pledging to work together.

As you will recall, I told everyone present at the meeting that my caucus insisted that the consideration of any ethics reform proposal go through the regular committee process.  You didn't indicate any opposition to this position at the time, and I wrote the letter to reiterate this point, as well as the fact that I thought S. 2180 should be the basis for a bipartisan solution.

I confess that I have no idea what has prompted your response. But let me assure you that I am not interested in typical partisan rhetoric or posturing.  The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you nor my willingness to find a bipartisan solution to this problem.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

McCain will probably respond by killing Obama's dog.

There's more...

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.

There's more...

Merry Christmas, Barack. Now How About Doing Something?

I just got this over email.

Merry Christmas to you too, Senator.  I hope that your holidays are joyous.

By the way, the President just claimed the executive branch has absolute power.  Might I suggest you use some of your political capital and quit the 'aw shucks I'm new here' schtick? You did teach Constitutional Law.

Once again, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

UPDATE: From The Peoria Star Journal (courtesy of bi66er):

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., also supports congressional hearings.

"Once we have more information we'll know to what degree our laws were circumvented," Obama said. "But regardless, I am certain that we can do the intelligence gathering we need to do without eroding the civil liberties our founding fathers intended."

I do like how it's a matter of degree, though I wonder why he just sort of assumes we're going to get information about the degree to which our laws were circumvented.

DCCC head not afraid of nationalized election

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen told Greg Sargent that he isn't worried about Republicans nationalizing this year's House races:

They’ve got a very tough argument to make,” Van Hollen told me, speaking of Republicans. “If you want to nationalize the election, you also bring in Bush and Cheney. If they do that, they open the door to the question: Why would you give the keys to the guys that drove us into the economic ditch and then refused to help get out of that ditch?”

“If you want to talk about President Obama’s record, you have to recognize that he inherited a mess that was given to us by Bush and Cheney,” Van Hollen continued. “You can’t argue one without having to address the other. We will ask a simple question: How did we get into this mess and what have Republicans done to get us out of it?”

One tricky thing for the DCCC is that making the election about Obama could help some incumbents by driving up Democratic turnout, but many House Democrats in Republican-leaning districts will prefer to emphasize their "independence" from the president's agenda. Most of the 42 Democrats in the DCCC's Frontline program represent more conservative districts.

I do agree that it's imperative for Democrats to remind voters whose economic policies made the past decade a lost one for the middle class while the wealthiest made a killing. Although we can't make this year's election primarily about George Bush, Democrats ran successfully against the "party of Hoover" for many election cycles.

FOUND: U.S. Constitution

by Walter Brasch

           Sarah Palin stood before an audience of 600 at the first Tea Party convention and in her twinkly home-spun rhetoric, declared we don't need a professor of law but a commander-in-chief. As expected, she received roaring applause. And, as expected, she was wrong.

           After Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, aided by a compliant Congress and a nation largely afraid to stand up for their rights, abused the Constitution for almost eight years, what the United States needs is a leader who understands constitutional law and who is unafraid of making sure all Americans understand that the fabric that became America should not be torn apart for political convenience.

           Dick Cheney and George W. Bush established policies which violated:

           ● The First Amendment (freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances)

           ● The Fourth Amendment (freedom from unreasonable searches)

           ● The Fifth Amendment (right of due process and to protect against self-incrimination)

           ● The Sixth Amendment (due process, the right to counsel, a speedy trial, and the right to a fair and public trial by an impartial jury)

           ● The Eighth Amendment (reasonable bail and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment), and

           ● The Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection guarantee for both citizens and non-citizens)

           Bush–Cheney Administration actions also violated provisions of Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to petition the courts to issue a writ of habeas corpus to require the government to produce a prisoner or suspect in order to determine the legality of the detention. Only Congress may order a suspension of habeas corpus, and then only in “Cases of Rebellion or Invasion.” Congress did not suspend this right; nothing during or subsequent to the 9/11 attack indicated either a rebellion or invasion under terms of the Constitution.

           It wasn't just liberals who argued about Constitutional violations.  Many leading conservatives argued that the Bush–Cheney Administration overreached in its lame attempt to "keep America safe." Among those conservatives who objected were Bob Barr, Grover Norquist, Alan Caruba, and William F. Buckley, the founder of modern conservative thought. Also objecting to the wide-reaching policies of the Bush–Cheney Administration were federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, which leans to the right.

           In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004), Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been nominated for the Court by Ronald Reagan, was forceful in her majority opinion, which attacked Bush–Cheney Administration policies. According to O'Connor:

      It is during our most challenging and uncertain moments that our Nation's commitment to due process is most severely tested; and it is in those times that we must preserve our commitment at home to the principles for which we fight abroad.  . . . (The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit government action.) . .  . (It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties, which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.)

           A large population of misinformed citizens—including leading politicians, pundits, and blowhards—claim even if everything else was true about protecting rights during times of war, the Constitution protects only American citizens and not foreigners. The Supreme Court has several times ruled otherwise. In 1886, the Supreme Court, in its Yick Wo v. Hopkins decision, reaffirmed the principle that the Constitution protects all persons, even foreigners, in U.S. jurisdiction. More than a century later, in Boumediene v. Bush (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that the right of habeas corpus applies to all persons, even terrorists confined in Guantanamo Bay. Not one of the nine justices, or even the Bush–Cheney Administration itself, disagreed with that principle. The only dissent was that such prisoners were on foreign soil and outside the jurisdiction of the Constitution; the Supreme Court ruled that the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was on U.S., not Cuban, soil.

           And now in an interesting twist of logic come the Teabaggers, who continue to claim that not only doesn't the Constitution apply to foreigners but that they want to impeach President Obama because he violated Constitutional rights. Alas, they can't provide specific instances that will hold up in any federal court. But, like much of what the Tea Party zealots say, it makes good rhetoric, and the mainstream media, often without challenge, publish and air their views to a mass audience.

           But Sarah Palin and the party who loves her demand that this nation get rid of its professor of constitutional law and replace him with a man who is a true blue, 100 percent all-American commander-in-chief. You know, the kind who sends American forces into Iraq to chase mythical weapons that don't exist, and then claims at least his invasion got rid of a dictator. The kind who costs more than 4,000 American deaths and more than 30,000 injuries, many of them permanent. The kind who doesn't give the troops the armament and protection they need while in battle, and then the rehabilitation they need when they can no longer fight.

           In case Sarah Palin didn't read the Constitution, President Barack Obama is the president of the United States and the commander-in-chief of the nation's military. The biggest difference is that this president and commander-in-chief is just as aggressive in protecting the principles of the Constitution as he is in protecting the safety of the American people.

 [Walter Brasch is the author of 17 books, including the national award-winning America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights and Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available at amazon.com, bn.com, and numerous independent and chain stores. Dr. Brasch is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com or by e-mail at brasch@bloomu.edu]

 

 

 

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