Saturday, June 30, 2007

More on Brownback vote switching: As many readers may know, Sen. Brownback (R-KS), who is running for president, first prominently voted in favor of cloture at the beginning of Thursday's vote and then switched to vote against cloture as the vote went on. Why did this happen? One explanation according to Leon H. Wolf (emphasis added):

Second, people want to know how it came to be that Senator Brownback was heard to vote "Yes" but came to be recorded as a "No." In the Senator's words:

I wanted to signal that I am supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, but that now is not the time and this is not the bill.

The Senator did this intentionally and planned it, which is he made a point of voting first and loudly. It was intended to be a symbolic act which admittedly may not have had its intended effect on some people, but it *was* planned from the beginning.

But how much did he plan it? This CQ story seems to trouble Brownback's explanation that he had a pre-determined switch for symbolic reasons (emphasis added):

Though some on both sides of the issue accused Brownback of “flip-flopping” once he saw that he would end up on the losing side of the debate, the senator suggested that it was again compassion — this time for a general public deeply divided over how to deal with immigration — that drove his mid-vote change.

Brownback told Congressional Quarterly’s CQToday, “I just concluded as I was on the floor that the country is just not ready.” He added that the issue “just needs to rest for a while.”

So was this "planned from the beginning" or did Sen. Brownback spontaneously change his decision on the floor? Has the man now mocked in some corners of the net as "Senator Switchback" switched his explanation of his vote switch? Or is one of these reports not accurate, or is there some way of synthesizing both into a single, coherent narrative? Was the switch planned from the beginning, and did Brownback, while he was on the floor, also conclude that "the country is just not ready"? UPDATE: I suppose that he could have, while he was on the floor just before the vote (it's not clear quite when he was "on the floor" and made this conclusion) that the country was "not ready" and come up with that symbolic gesture...