Unseemly wrangling

Unseemly wrangling

It is disheartening to see the disarray in Congress – and particularly disheartening that Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who leads his party, seems determined to keep it that way.

In the last presidential election, McCain stood out as a man who “crossed the aisle,” who could work with colleagues of various political stripes to get things done.

And certainly, in this infinitesimally ebbing recession, in the face of the undiluted threat from radical Islam and the growing open belligerence of Iran, we need to get things done.

This country could use more legislators like McCain – the McCain who joined forces with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, for example, to pass a bipartisan campaign finance reform act in 2002. The now-Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was among the 41 Senate sponsors of the bill, which was overturned by the Supreme Court just a few months ago (and should not have been).

In fact, in 2008, The Washington Times compared the legislative records of both McCain and his opponent, Barack Obama, and concluded that “Mr. McCain has reached across the aisle far more frequently and with more members than Mr. Obama since the latter came to the Senate in 2005.”

Since that time, the piece continued, “McCain has led as chief sponsor of 82 bills, on which he had 120 Democratic co-sponsors out of 220 total…. He worked with Democrats on 50 of his bills, and of those, 37 times Democrats outnumber Republicans as co-sponsors.”

This willingness to cross the aisle for the greater good was one of his strengths that was often cited in his campaign. Readers may remember hearing Lieberman celebrate this quality in his candidate at a NORPAC gathering in Teaneck in August of 2008.

But there’s been little aisle-crossing in the current Congress, and McCain’s recent comment – “There’ll be no cooperation [from Republicans] for the rest of the year” – does not bode well.

He likes to say that he’s a man who puts country first. It’s time for him, and for all members of Congress, to put aside their differences and do just that.


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