Thursday, June 28, 2007

George Voinovich, Still Crying

From today's Political Diary, published by The Wall Street Journal:

The fate of the Senate immigration bill may be decided today if supporters can't muster 60 votes to shut off debate and proceed. Although 64 senators on Tuesday supported going forward with the bill, more than a dozen did so only to allow debate on 27 amendments.

If the bill does go to a full debate, many C-SPAN watchers are hoping Ohio GOP Senator George Voinovich will play a prominent role if for no other reason than his entertainment value. You'll recall Mr. Voinovich broke into tears on the Senate floor in 2005 in opposing the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador, an opposition he later recanted. This week he echoed Sen. Richard Lugar's comments that the Iraqi troop surge had failed, but without any of his colleague's eloquence or depth.

Mr. Voinovich made the mistake of appearing on Sean Hannity's national radio show yesterday to speak on the immigration bill. The interview did not go well. Mr. Hannity's first question concerned the Fairness Doctrine, which liberal Democrats are seeking to revive as a means of imposing equal-time provisions on talk radio. Mr. Voinovich got off on the wrong foot by saying: "I'm all for the Fairness Doctrine, whatever that is."

When the discussion moved to immigration, Mr. Hannity proved to be more knowledgeable about what had happened on the Senate floor yesterday morning than the senator. When informed that an amendment by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had failed, Mr. Voinovich responded, "I thought it passed because, frankly, I voted for it."

Mr. Voinovich certainly had a point about the ill-mannered and often ill-informed commentary on the immigration issue on talk radio. But he did nothing to improve the situation by putting on his best imitation of an arrogant solon who resented hearing from constituents: "I want everyone else to know: You do not intimidate George Voinovich. This is my 40th year in this business.... I've gotten calls from people that, basically, are intimidating me. They're saying, 'If you do this [vote for the bill], I'll do that [vote against you].'"

When Mr. Hannity pressed him on specifics of the legislation, Mr. Voinovich ducked by saying he had read "most" of the summaries of the bill. And he then launched into a tirade before hanging up on the ABC Radio/Fox News host. "I really don't think it's worthy to talk to you right now because you've got your mind [made] up, you're not really interested in hearing the other side of the coin. All you just want to hear is somebody agree with you. And I'm disappointed in you, because I had more respect for you. I wouldn't even have gone on this radio program with you if I hadn't thought that you'd give me an opportunity.... You haven't even given me a chance."

"You're running away because you can't answer a simple question," replied Mr. Hannity. With that, Senator Voinovich replied: "I hope next time around we have another subject that we can be more rational about." He then hung up. If Mr. Voinovich votes to kill the immigration bill today, it may be for no other reason than a desire to save himself from more embarrassment every time he talks about the subject.

For the record, Voinovich did indeed vote to kill the bill.

No comments: