George Stephanopoulos Queries Obama on Harry Reid’s “Draw a Line Strategy” on Ethics Reform


Today, on This Week with George Staphanopoulos, Senator Barack Obama was queried on whether he was ‘the unnamed Senator’ mentioned by Senator Harry Reid in a blogger conference call, on which TWN reported several days ago.
The quote that Stephanopoulos highlighted was:

“(A)n unnamed Democratic Senator had come to him with a proposal on “ethics reform” ala Abramoff that could be bi-partisan. Reid told this person that this was the wrong time to be engaged in construtive “reform” proposals with the other side. He said that this was the time to draw a line and to show how “our side” differed dramatically from ‘their side.'”
Summary by Steven Clemons January 18, 2006

Here is the Audio Podcast of today’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Senator Obama did not deny that he was the unnamed Senator referred to. He went on to state that he believed that the approach needed on ethics reform had to be bipartisan, even though the current Abramoff scandal rested solely at the footsteps of the Republican Party.
When queried whether Reid had given him marching orders to focus more on contrasting Democratic ethics positions with Republican ones, Obama said that Reid knew he’d speak his mind in support of credible, bipartisan approaches.
And when George Stephanopoulos pushed him further, asking whether Obama and Reid were really on the same page, Obama said that he was sure that Reid was on the side of taking credible steps that would substantively clean up the current ethics mess in Washington.
In other words, reading between the lines:

1. Obama was the so-called unnamed Senator;
2. Reid did try and give Obama marching orders on ethics reform strategies, which Obama is bucking; and
3. Reid and Obama are not “exactly” on the same page.

There are valid reasons from my point of view why Reid’s strategy on drawing a line between the Dems and Republicans — particularly on the Abramoff scandal and all the mess tied to Tom DeLay — makes a lot of sense.
But at the same time, the Dems have to initiate credible reform packages that would appeal to the sensibilities of well-meaning Republicans.
Credible reform that seduces part of the other side to Democratic objectives is the way for Dems to eventually win Congress, or at least half of it, back.
I was pleased that George Stephanopoulos’s team checked out TWN and am glad that this national conversation is taking place.
— Steve Clemons