Obama's no maverick
"Sen. Obama has never taken on his party leaders on a single major issue."
John McCain, Tuesday in presidential debate in Nashville The ruling
The maverick label is a big selling point of the McCain campaign, so it's natural that he wants to paint Barack Obama as a Democratic Party toady. The Obama campaign, of course, disputes McCain's charge that he hasn't bucked party leaders on a big issue and they cite some examples. One is from 2006 and 2007, when Obama pushed to create an independent Office of Public Integrity to investigate congressional ethics cases. Most Democrats voted for the new office in 2006, then a small majority opposed it in 2007, so Obama wasn't really fighting a crowd. And this wasn't a "major issue," it was really a secondary matter in a broader fight over ethics reform that most Democrats supported. Second is a 2005 vote in which Obama sided with Republicans and some Democrats in favor of a bill to give federal courts jurisdiction over some class-action cases. But this again wasn't a vote in which Obama stood apart from his caucus. Eighteen Democrats supported the bill with him, 26 opposed. And Obama wasn't outspoken on the issue, so it can't be argued that he challenged party leaders. Finally, the campaign cites his 2005 vote to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. But most Senate Democrats favored Rice. So none of these examples shows Obama taking on his party leaders on a major issue. Also, Congressional Quarterly tallies key Senate votes and of the 41 votes tallied by CQ from 2005 to 2007, Obama sided with his caucus on 36. All told, McCain's right and we say True.
Shawn Zeller, Congressional Quarterly