Greg Sargent is reading Michael Grunwald's new book and, lo and behold, here's Joe Biden spilling the beans -- breaking the collegial omertà of the Senate and coming up with what really happened, thanks to Mitch McConnell.
Here's the quote from Grunwald.
Biden says that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any cooperation on many votes. “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators, who said, `Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything,’ he recalls. His informants said McConnell had demanded unified resistance. “The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’” Biden says.
The vice president says he hasn’t even told Obama who his sources were, but Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania both confirmed they had conversations with Biden along these lines.
As Sargent notes, Biden "has a history of outsized comments." But there's verification from at least two Republican senators. One Republican aide tells Sargent: "'People were pretty demoralized, and there were two totally opposite thoughts on how to approach the situation... One was, we don't like the president, we ought to pop him early. The other was, he’s really popular, we should work with him, because that’s what people want us to do. The boss’s take was: Neither. McConnell realized that it would be much easier to fight Obama if Republicans first made a public show of wanting to work with him."
As for Joe Biden -- I believe him. Does anyone really disbelieve him? Republicans won't disbelieve him. After all, they've been cheering Mitch McConnell on for four years.
Meanwhile, this isn't the first time Joe Biden has broken ranks and described Senate behaviors. In a 2006 interview with NPR, he talked about the bad behaviors of conservatives, behaviors that began twenty years ago if not earlier.
If I had to pick one moment, it was 1994 when so many members of the House of Representatives got elected to the Senate... the Gingrich Revolution. Where it was burn the House down to take back the House. And in fairness it was in reaction to dominance of the Democratic Party of so many years controllling both houses and the frustration many Republicans in the House felt about, basically, being muzzled for so many years. And they came to the US Senate with an attitude that was very very different from traditional Senate attitudes. The Senate is a different place from the House, not in terms of the men and women who make it up but in terms of the rules and the design of the institution. I would mark the beginning of the real change occurring in 1994 in the US Senate. ...
... Everything was viewed in personal terms; everything was viewed in terms of an open war. For example, it used to be, in the Senate -- I've been in the minority and the majority, both, before that time. When you've lost and you're in the minority, you've got one third of the staff and the majority has two thirds. When it flipped back the other way, it didn't matter. It was just the way it was and you never made it personal. In 1994 when they took over the Senate, it became very very personal. It's gotten to the point now that, for example, when you have a conference... I know you know this, but it's arcane... the Senate passes a bill on an issue, the House passes the same bill. There are some differences. They go into a conference where an assigned number of Senators and an assigned number of House members of both parties sit down and work out the differences. Well, it's become standard rule now that the Republicans in the Senate and the Republicans in the House meet and don't even include the Democrats, and they rewrite the legislation. And that's it. It's a very different attitude and it's a very different way in which we proceed. I fear if the Democrats win back the House or Senate, they may mimic that same behavior. I think it's very damaging to the body politic.