John McCain Praises Russ Feingold’s Career In The Senate

Posted by | December 1, 2010 09:26 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

The level of partisanship and vitriol in Washington today is at a level truly unprecedented. It is hard to think of a time when this country was more divided and the rhetoric more outrageous. Just yesterday Republican Congressman Steve King showed just how ugly political debate has become with his unquestionably racist rant about President Obama and Congressional legislation to compensate black farmers for decades of institutional racism. But for almost seven minutes, something remarkable happened on the Senate floor. Republican John McCain took time to praise and honor the career of defeated Democratic Senator Russ Feingold in a heartfelt moment of real bipartisanship.

In his speech McCain discussed how the two strongly disagreed on many issues, particularly the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but how that did not stop them from being friends and working together on issues they did agree on. McCain went on to say:

“I can’t do justice in these remarks to all of Russ’ many qualities or express completely how much I think this institution benefited from his service here and how much I benefited from knowing him. I lack the eloquence. I don’t think he is replaceable. We would all do well to keep his example in our minds as we serve our constituents and country and convictions. We couldn’t have a better role model.

As many people know, McCain and Feingold are famous for working together on bipartisan campaign finance reform to try and limit the influence of “soft money” in politics. Unfortunately for the country, and to the great satisfaction of the corporate lobbyists,  most of that law was struck down by the Supreme Court this year.

There isn’t much I agree with John McCain on anymore when it comes to policy. But it was great to see him remind everyone (for seven minutes anyway) why he used to be every Democrat’s favorite Republican Senator, by honoring every progressive activist’s’ favorite Democratic Senator. For most of his career John McCain was a respectable and honorable public official; a man worthy of praise and respect across the ideological spectrum.  But in recent years McCain let his ambition trump his principles. He seemed to hint at some regret for that today, but sooner or later everyone becomes corrupted by Washington if they stay there long enough; everyone except for Russ Feingold, that is. It would have been nice if McCain had made these comments before Feingold lost his seat, but this was still bipartisanship I can believe in.

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