Thursday, October 02, 2008

Senate Passes Bailout Plan; House May Vote by Friday.

Both the presidential candidates voted for it, and a bipartisan coalition of senators voted for it, meaning that the bill which caused all the controversy easily passed in the Senate and will now return to the House to see if they will reconsider their recent rejection.

The Senate margin was 74 to 25 in favor of the White House initiative to buy troubled securities in an effort to avoid an economic catastrophe.

Only Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who is being treated for brain cancer, did not vote.

The two Senate leaders, Senators Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, strongly urged their colleagues to approve the plan despite the political risk given public resentment.

“Supporting this legislation is the only way to make the best of a crisis and return our country to a path of economic stability, prosperity and growth,” said Mr. Reid, who asked that senators vote formally from their desks. The presence in the Senate of both presidential candidates in the final weeks of the campaign also gave weight to the moment.

However, the presence of both candidates did not mean that solidarity was in the air, with McCain publicly snubbing Obama.

Let the record reflect that Barack Obama made the approach to John McCain tonight.

As the two shared the Senate floor tonight for the first time since they won their party nominations, Obama stood chatting with Democrats on his side of the aisle, and McCain stood on the Republican side of the aisle.

So Obama crossed over into enemy territory.

He walked over to where McCain was chatting with Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. And he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to McCain.

McCain shook it, but with a “go away” look that no one could miss. He tried his best not to even look at Obama.

Finally, with a tight smile, McCain managed a greeting: “Good to see you.”

Obama got the message. He shook hands with Martinez and Lieberman — both of whom greeted him more warmly — and quickly beat a retreat back to the Democratic side.

So, for all his talk of bipartisanship and "reaching across the aisles", McCain's idea of reaching across the aisle is not extended to his Democratic rival who he sees as his most bitter foe.

And, once again, we find he's doing his best not to even look at Obama. It's as if McCain really believes his "experience" argument should win the day and is appalled that he is having to face this upstart; and, worse still, finds himself behind in the polls to this person and has no idea why.

Indeed, as he slips further and further behind in the polls the Republicans are calling on McCain to make his campaign even more negative than it has been to date.
Republicans are urging John McCain to adopt more aggressive tactics against Barack Obama amid fears that the White House is slipping away from them. Although McCain has been pumping out negative ads throughout August and September, Republican state leaders and officials want to see him becoming even more personal, exploiting Obama's links with figures he knew in Chicago. These include: William Ayers, a former member of Weather Underground, a group involved in a 1970s bombing campaign in the US; the Rev Jeremiah Wright, his controversial former pastor; and Tony Rezko, the land developer convicted of fraud and bribery earlier this year who had contributed to his campaign funds.
This is one aspect of McCain's campaigning style which continues to trouble me. He appears to have learnt nothing from Clinton's battle with Obama and appears to want to try all the avenues which she tried to exploit, hoping that he will have more success than she did.

For example, Clinton tried the "elitist" jibe which McCain later picked up with little success. And any attempt to exploit Jeremiah Wright, which had limited success when Hillary tried it, will now only open the door to an examination of Palin's pastors, videos of which litter the internet.

McCain, like Clinton before him, is trying the same old Washington politics that they both know so well.

It's as if he simply doesn't understand the clamour for change which Obama is riding on, even as McCain pretends that this is what he wants to bring to Washington. The more he tries the discredited tactics of the past, the more McCain puts himself on the wrong side of the change argument which he claims to be making.

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