Politico offers less-flattering look at Klobuchar

Sen. Amy Klobuchar had an answer ready for local journalists who asked her this week about the fiasco in a human trafficking bill that held up the confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch because of an abortion provision.

  1. Listen Sen. Amy Klobuchar discusses deal on human trafficking bill

    April 21, 2015

“No one is really looking back at the past,” she said when asked about a mistake in her office that allowed the abortion provision into the bill.

Of course, someone’s always looking at the past in politics and in this story, it’s Politico, which this week provided a behind-the-scenes look at the snafu, for which Klobuchar said she took full responsibility while blaming the mistake on a staffer.

That, Politico said, is a move “that’s generally frowned upon in the Senate.” It’s not the first time the senator has blamed a staff member for a problem, however.

But it worked. Yesterday morning, a smiling Klobuchar was on the front page of the Star Tribune, the story framed as a breakthrough for bipartisanship.


“We’ve been able to work across the aisle,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a quote emblazoned above the Klobuchar article. He was the lead GOP negotiator in unwinding the impasse.

Compare that quote to the one in Politico.

“There was a lot of angst over this because it was hidden in plain sight. And you have a bunch of high-priced, elite, law school-educated staff who surely can read it,” Cornyn said. “I just don’t find that plausible.”

According to Politico, Senate leaders in Klobuchar’s own party pushed her aside, worried that having made the blunder, she was in too big a hurry to make it go away.

During the closed-door lunch last month in the Senate’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Room, what irked some senators was Klobuchar’s initial refusal to take responsibility for the error, according to lawmakers who described the exchange. She pointed to the number of aides and Democrats who serve on the Judiciary Committee who pored over the bill and also missed it.

“I want women in our caucus to be treated with respect — and I want them to have a voice,” Cantwell said Tuesday when asked about the dispute between Leahy and Klobuchar. While Cantwell acknowledged that male senators often confront other male senators, “if I feel like someone is trying to push one of our [female] colleagues, I’m going to say something about it.”

Leahy and Klobuchar downplayed the dispute Tuesday. The senior senator from Vermont wrote in an email that he worked with Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Murray — along with Klobuchar — to break the impasse.

But Klobuchar said this week that she was responsible for breaking the logjam, the result of an epiphany she had while driving in a Moorhead corn field.

Asked about the tension by Politico, Klobuchar dropped the same line she did for the local media. “Nobody is really talking about that today. We’re talking about how we move forward.”

Klobuchar’s office this week said the aide who made the mistake still works for the senator.

With a memoir soon to be published, and rumors that she has higher aspirations, Klobuchar’s challenge on a national stage will be to find a better answer.

“We’re not talking about that today” is blood in the water for the national political media.

  • Gary F

    MPR/Star Tribune are Amy’s biggest cheerleaders. They hate it when the national press gives her any criticism.

    • Yes, my hatred for people who say bad things about Amy Klobuchar is just dripping through this entire post, isn’t it?

      • J F Hanson

        a little touchy today, are we, Bob?

        Gary F did say nothing about you–but enough; you and I are off topic.

        • No, not touchy. Just trying to test the logic.

          If MPR HATES it when people say bad things about Amy Klobuchar, why am I writing bad things about Amy Klobuchar.

          Are you saying *I’m* not MPR?

          The fact I am — at least as of a few hours ago, anyway — would seem to undermine such a general and unproven assertion.

          I would also point out, by the way, in the MPR series that won a Peabody Award this week, Klobuchar was cited for her role in the failure to investigate pedophile priests.


          So it’s not being touchy, Jim, it’s saying that facts matter.

          Nobody’s going to be questioning the ethics of this news organization without being required to offer proof.

          This ain’t AM talk radio.

          • Justine Parenteau Wettschreck

            As someone who works in AM talk radio… um… golly, Bob. I’ve got ethics, too. I used ’em just the other day.

          • The point had nothing to do with a question of ethics.

          • J F Hanson

            Heh. Correct; you are not MPR.

            I’ve always considered you to be a responsible journalist regardless of questionable or laudatory practices by MPR or by other MPR journalists.

            That’s the differentiation I make–so you would write positive or negative commentary about Klobuchar’s actions or lack thereof.

          • // HehHeh. Correct; you are not MPR.. Correct; you are not MPR.

            This is beginning to explain the lack of eye contact in the hallway.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    I guess I find this to be the classic “tempest in a teapot”. I thought the standard procedure in the national legislature was to construct bills like coral reefs. A complex structure that serves as a habitat for many unrelated organisms. (sorry about the analogy but I caught the end of a lovely documentary on the Great Barrier Reef last night.)

    • Well, the problem is a failure in a senator’s office ground the process to a half. Assuming gridlock in Washington is a legitimate issue — and it is from what I hear — then the things that contribute to it would seem to be legit, too.

      Beyond that is the question of whether someone who has higher aspirations is going to be willing to answer some tough questions on a national stage.

      • Postal Customer

        I don’t know that she’s ever really been prepared to answer tough questions. Her first campaign for the senate basically borrowed all of John Kerry’s 2004 talking points.

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  • Robert

    It seems that people with aspirations for higher office in politics have a hard time saying “I made a mistake”. Part of it is the 24/7 media sees that as blood in the water, part of it is the CYA attitude of politicians in general. We want honest politicians with integrity but we stand ready with tar and feathers if they admit they made a mistake. Senator Klobuchar should take a page from Harry Truman…..”the buck stops here”. You’re in charge and oversee your staff; if you’re willing to take credit for their hard work you should also be accountable when mistakes happen.

  • crystals

    This whole debacle makes me want to know more about the current culture within the good senator’s office. I’ve heard more than a few times from those who’d know that she’s NOT an easy person to work for, so I’ve got to believe publicly throwing a staffer under the bus isn’t doing much to promote a harmonious work environment.

    To be fair, people probably aren’t signing up to work for any senator because of the office culture and I worry a bit that there’s some gender stereotypes going on here (Her name is Amy and she’s from Minnesota! She must be nice!). But still…if you’ve got big ambitions–like many assume Klobuchar does–it probably doesn’t help to have a bunch of angry ex-staffers out in the world.

  • Tom Nehil

    Can you provide a link to the Politico piece?

  • Jeff

    I’m not a huge fan of Amy but seems like her fellow Democrats threw her under the bus as well. If the bill got through the Judiciary committee, then they all should have taken responsibility for knowing what’s in it. I don’t know if it’s power politics as usual but McConnell holding up the AG nomination for something totally unrelated to extract concessions doesn’t seem right either.

    • Betty_

      Does it matter who is at fault. Moving the bill forward is the priority here, which was done. The error was caught and very important human trafficking bill is on it’s way.

      “There was a lot of angst over this because it was hidden in plain sight. And you have a bunch of high-priced, elite, law school-educated staff who surely can read it,” Cornyn said. “I just don’t find that plausible.”

      The office staff is support. Yes, support is responsible for catching these tidbits. The Senator has lots on her plate as it is and it’s not like the staff member was fired.

      The discussion is petty.

  • MrE85

    The bill was approved, and she can take credit for it. That’s all anyone will remember a week from now. Next.

  • Jen

    Would this standoff over the human trafficking bill have generated as much attention as it did had it not been (arbitrarily) tied to the Loretta Lynch confirmation? The lead sentence in this post alludes to the “fiasco” that “held up the confirmation” of AG nominee Lynch, but then the rest of the piece is all about the sneak abortion provision that seem to have been Sen. Amy K’s mistake. Fine, but what about the fact that the Lynch confirmation absolutely should have happened months ago and had zero to do with the bill in question? If her confirmation hadn’t been linked to passage of this bill, would most people know or care about the mistake and subsequent wrangling?

    • I guess that depends on how much people think stopping human trafficking is important.