Memo to Joe Klein: Dems Run the House of Representatives

In a September 29 blog post aimed at "Placing Blame" for failure of the bailout package in the House of Representatives today, Time's Joe Klein began by tossing, "I don't blame John McCain for not rounding up enough Republican votes to get this bailout bill through the House of Representatives."

Klein added a few other reasons he doesn't blame the Arizona senator:

...he's never held a leadership position and therefore doesn't know how to whip votes and finally--well, uh--there is one tried and true method for getting members of Congress to vote aye and McCain opposes it: a sweetener, like say, funding for a bridge in their districts. That is one reason why we have earmarks. McCain is opposed to giving away baubles for the greater good.

Yet he left out one key fact. It was Democratic, not Republican votes that doomed the bailout agreement.

After all, Democrats control the chamber with 235 representatives to Republicans' 199 (there is one vacancy). Forty percent (95) of House Democrats did not vote with their party leadership, resulting in 228 votes cast in opposition to the bailout's package. If Speaker Pelosi had flipped a dozen nay votes from her caucus, the plan would have passed.

No matter to Joe "Anonymous" Klein, who spent the rest of his Swampland blog entry preaching against John McCain as a false prophet while praising the Obamessiah for rebuking the financial storm:

As for Barack Obama, his visceral aversion to showboating did him a service. He laid out four requirements for his support of the bill--requests he had, clearly, coordinated with the Democratic Leadership (and which McCain supported). He made the necessary calls to keep up with the negotiations (as McCain did). He made it clear, without ostentation or fuss, that he supported the compromise. Even today, after the bill failed, Obama warned against panic and advised the Congress to get back to work and, "Get it done."

This was, I believe, eminently rational behavior in a moment of crisis. Obama didn't pretend that he could, or should, do something that he couldn't do. He didn't lead, but then, he wasn't in a position to lead. (McCain's games were the opposite of leadership--they were an unnecessary distraction.) There may be times in the future--in the next few weeks, in fact--when events will call for Obama to be a far more forceful presence. We'll see whether he has it in him. But this wasn't the time for that. It was the time for a cool head, something McCain has yet to demonstrate.

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