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Obama: McCain Has Lost His Bipartisan Street Cred

Who cares about bipartisanship anymore?

The public has soured on both parties, and Congress has its lowest approval ratings in history. (See: Backlash, Bailout.) Yet the presidential candidates are *still *tussling over who is truly bipartisan.

On Thursday afternoon, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton went after Sen. John McCain’s bipartisan street cred. Responding to McCain’s effort to undermine Obama’s bipartisan bailout work, he said:

Not twelve hours after he ran an ad where he decried Republicans blaming Democrats for the financial crisis, John McCain went on TV this morning and blamed Barack Obama for the financial crisis. Senator McCain’s erratic, unsteady response to this crisis proves how out-of-touch he is with the struggles facing working Americans.

McCain’s recent ads are a reach, as TWI’s Matt DeLong reports, but this whole face-off seems out of touch.

The public cares more about what Congress does to address the financial crisis than whether it does it in a bipartisan way. On Monday, many members of the House demonstrated precisely that when they rebuffed their leaders and a “bipartisan consensus” to vote against the bailout bill.

Now, yes, symbolism still matters in politics, and clearly the presidential nominees think there is something to be gained by appearing bipartisan at this time.

During his appearance on the Senate floor yesterday, Obama made a point of Crossing The Aisle to greet McCain and mingle with several Republicans. As the droll pool report explained:

[Obama] walked across to the GOP side of the chamber. He chatted with Lindsey Graham briefly, then approached McCain, who was talking to two other GOP senators. Obama reached his hand to McCain, and they had the briefest of handshakes, not clear on eye contact. (Jim Lehrer would have been unhappy) Obama greeted Graham again and then headed to [Democratic] terrority… (emphasis added)

When it comes to the auras of bipartisanship and eye contact, I think Lehrer is a lonely voice right now.

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