Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LIVE from D.C. - Reichert says he's "on board" with President Obama's new direction

Good morning! Feels great to wake up and realize that Barack Obama is now our President, doesn't it? I'm still in the District of Columbia, which is humming with activity as Congress and the new administration get down to business.

At the moment I'm sitting in the Dirksen Senate office building, where the Evergreen State congressional delegation is very graciously hosting a coffee for Washingtonians who journeyed to the District of Columbia for yesterday's historic inauguration. We just heard from several members of our delegation, including both of our senators and three of our representatives, who shared their experiences from yesterday and answered questions.

The funniest moment came shortly after Patty Murray had finished answering a question. Representative Dave Reichert had just walked in and joined his colleagues Jay Inslee and Jim McDermott behind Murray and Maria Cantwell. The four Democrats had been talking about what Washingtonians can do to help support Barack Obama and move his agenda forward past Republican obstructionism.

As Murray concluded her train of thought and looked around the room to see if there were further questions, someone stepped forward, pointed at Reichert, and asked in a booming voice, "What about that Republican? Is he on board?"

The whole room immediately exploded into laughter.

Reichert spread his hands and smiled broadly, looking surprised (and maybe a little hurt). He then proceeded to hug Inslee, McDermott, and Cantwell, while Murray reminded everyone that representing our state transcends partisan politics, and that Reichert in particular agrees with the Democratic members on many issues.

Reichert himself then spoke, assuring the assembled group that he was in fact "on board" with President Obama's new direction for America. (Apparently this includes withdrawing responsibly from Iraq - Reichert mentioned that he was looking forward to welcoming our troops home soon. Of course, he didn't mention that while Dubya was in power, he unfailingly supported the occupation, but Dubya is no longer around to demand Reichert's allegiance).

Reichert acknowledged that he expects his feet to be held to the fire. He didn't promise to be a reliable vote for legislation President Obama supports, but it's evident that his intention is to keep an open mind. And that's commendable.

His tone of voice suggested that he was genuinely excited about the inauguration and very honored to witness the swearing in of our nation's first African American president. Of course, it's great politics for Reichert to speak favorably of Obama and his ideas - after all, a majority of his constituents voted for Obama. Nevertheless, his stated desire to work cooperatively with the new administration is appreciated. Plenty of Republicans are already trying to muck things up by causing trouble (ahem, cough, John Cornyn). And we don't need that.

We will be watching closely in the weeks and months ahead to see how Reichert votes on key bills moving through Congress, and how willing he is to help get progressive legislation to President Obama's desk.


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