Chris Wallace puts David Axelrod on the hot seat this morning on Fox News to ask Barack Obama’s chief strategist to provide evidence of Obama’s post-partisanship. Axelrod sputters about a few co-sponsored bills that passed by unanimous consent, but fails to come up with any evidence at all. Instead, he comes up with a strange new smear about Sarah Palin:
Fox News’ Chris Wallace: Now, David, McCain and Palin do have records of going up against their own parties. When has Barack Obama ever gone up against the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate?
Obama Senior Strategist David Axelrod: Well, first of all, I want to say this, Chris. Senator McCain on the biggest decision that he’ll ever make, uh, in public life, which is the choice of a vice-presidential nominee, decided not to go up against his own party and was told he couldn’t pick the person he thought was the best choice, amd he went with Governor Palin instead. So I think that’s important to know.
Wallace: Well, OK, but —
Axelrod: One of the first things that Senator Obama did when he came to the U.S. Senate was push for the most far-reaching ethics reforms that we’ve seen since Watergate. That didn’t please people on either side of the aisle, and he has done that consistently in his career. He’s reached across party lines to find consensus and he’s taken on his own party on issues like, like ethics reform. You know, what was interesting about these attacks about bipartisanship and so on is that people like Dick Lugar, the very respected Republican senator from Indiana, spoke out and said, These are just partisan attacks. I’ve worked with Barack Obama.’ They worked together on arms control. Senator Coburn in Oklahoma worked together with him on budget issues, like putting the budget on Google so we can see how our money is being spent, putting caps on the contracts around Katrina rebuilding. Senator Obama has a strong record of working across party lines to produce progress for people.
Wallace: But David, because you guys always talk about ethics legislation and the nuclear non-proliferation deal with Dick Lugar, I went back and looked — both of those measures passed by unanimous consent. They were so accepted by the Senate that there was not even a vote. In fact, ethics legislation was one of the campaign promises. These were not — if I may, if I may. These were not areas where Barack Obama went up against the leadership of his own party nearly in the way that John McCain did on campaign finance reform, on limiting interrogation of terror detainees, on immigration reform. He did not go up against his own party on either of those issues.
Axelrod refers to the idea that McCain wanted to pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate, but was too afraid to do so. That assumes two facts not in evidence at all — that Palin was a safe pick, and a darling of the party. I doubt seriously that McCain took very much advice from the RNC on any aspect of his campaign, let alone allow them to dictate his running mate. Palin has endeared herself to the party in Alaska in the same way McCain has endeared himself to it nationally. It’s an absurd statement and shows how desperate Axelrod has become.
As I mentioned earlier, this has to be a major attack line for Team McCain. Only one ticket in this race has a record of independent thought and action. Obama/Biden are machine politicians, never rocking the Democratic boat. Both McCain and Palin have actual experience doing what Obama only talks about. When pressed on this point, the only defense Team Obama has are a few co-sponsorships that didn’t even warrant a roll-call vote. Obama has never risked his standing in the party to champion any sort of reform or any kind of legislation at all.