But Obama and Congress do agree on Wikileaks

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 29, 2010; 11:15 AM

Official Washington will likely remain captivated Monday by the latest WikiLeaks dump of previously secret diplomatic cables, but don't expect any clashes between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans on the topic.

Officials in both parties have sharply condemned disclosure of the documents.

Echoing White House criticism, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a key GOP leader on national security issues among Republicans, said "leaking the material is deplorable."

"The people at WikiLeaks could have blood on their hands," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday."

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) joined Graham, saying, "I hope we can find out where this is coming from and go after them with the force of law."

The Republican criticism is likely to reduce the political fallout from the documents, which show in frank detail some of the diplomatic tactics of the Bush and Obama administrations.

Continued Partisanship?

But beyond the WikiLeaks release, the partisan bickering hasn't waned. Since Election Day, President Obama has repeatedly implored the political parties to stop the infighting, arguing that it has turned off voters. So far, however, no one seems to be listening.

Just as he did in the first 22 months of his presidency, Obama will close out 2010 facing a barrage of competing demands from the left and the right.

Liberal groups are demanding the president not shift to the center or look for compromises with Republicans. They are protesting Obama's creation of a bipartisan commission to reduce the budget deficit and pushing him to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell," policy that bars gays from serving openly in the military.

In an e-mail appeal to progressives last week that referred to the legislation that includes that the "don't ask" repeal, gay rights activists John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay wrote: "When John McCain was leading the filibuster against the Defense Authorization bill, President Obama didn't make one phone call to Capitol Hill. But he did find time that day to call the WNBA champs."

With the Defense bill being brought up again in the next few weeks, we need President Obama's leadership once again -- this is not the time for him to be MIA. He promised to be our fierce advocate," the e-mail said.

Republicans, meanwhile, are considering ways to block and repeal some of Obama's policies and legislative victories, such as the health care bill. They also hope to use the investigative powers they now have through their control of the House. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who will the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in January, is looking for ways to increase the subpoena power of inspectors general who investigate federal agencies.

The dueling agendas could complicate any attempt by Obama to change the partisan tone in Washington.

Few Republicans back repealing "don't ask, don't tell," and GOP leaders have criticized Democrats for focusing on the issue instead of the economy, which they say is most voters' he primary concern.

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