Profiles in Cowardice - 9/28/16
Today, for the first time in his eight year Presidency, the U.S. Congress overrode Obama's veto of a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi Arabian government for damages. In the Senate, the vote was 97-1, vastly more than the two-thirds majority required for an override.
The one vote against was that of retiring Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid of Nevada who is retiring from the upper House of Congress at the end of the year, so his vote against this hugely popular proposal has no political cost for him.
The Senate has 100 members, so two Senators did not show up to vote. These were former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democrat Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine of Virginia. They at least had the excuse that they were out campaigning for Hillary Clinton when the vote was held, but it cannot be denied that this was a very convenient excuse for both of them and that they were probably both relieved that they were not required to go on the record on this matter. A vote for the override by Sanders might have damaged his reputation among his left-wing constituents, while a vote against would have made him seem even more of an extremist among the general voting public in the unlikely event that he makes another run for the White House in four years.
Kaine would have had an even trickier dilemma if he had been forced to vote. He probably would have like to have voted for the override if only his personal preference was involved, but Kaine is an Obama loyalist, being one of the first Democrat elected officials to endorse Obama's initial run for the White House in 2008 and was reputedly on the short list of possible VP candidates in that year, but was passed over because of a lack of foreign policy experience. Some have even suggested that Clinton's selection of him for the veep slot this year was dictated by the Obama forces as a price for their support in the general election. So Kaine was no doubt relieved not to have to have to make a public repudiation of an unpopular policy position of the man who at least until 2017 will be the head of the Democrat party.
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