Georgia senators forget the president’s name

GEORGIA SENATORS FORGET THE PRESIDENT’S NAME…. Reasonable people can disagree on whether to expand nuclear power in the United States. The Monthly has been more than a little skeptical about the idea, but support for and opposition to the idea do not necessarily fall along clear ideological or partisan lines.

President Obama, for example, has long expressed a willingness to consider domestic nuclear expansion, and yesterday took a big step in that direction.

President Obama seized a key Republican energy initiative as his own Tuesday, promising $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees for a pair of Georgia reactors that he said would give new life to the U.S. nuclear power industry and create a surge of high-skill jobs.

By helping to finance the construction of the reactors — the first new U.S. nuclear power units in more than 30 years — Obama is hoping to jump-start his efforts to pass comprehensive climate-change legislation, which has stalled in Congress in the face of GOP opposition.

I’m happy to let energy policy experts weigh the merits of the loan guarantees. What I found interesting, though, was the reaction from Georgia’s right-wing Republican senators, who are thrilled to see their state benefit — the Obama administration’s proposal is likely help create thousands of jobs in Georgia — but can’t quite bring themselves to even use the president’s name.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Jay Bookman noted yesterday, for example, that Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) issued a seven-paragraph, 392-word joint statement, lauding the new nuclear initiative. Number of times Isakson and Chambliss used the words “president,” “Obama,” and/or “White House”? Zero. Even though the senators were delighted to hear the president’s announcement, as Bookman concluded, the two “just couldn’t bring themselves” to agree with Obama by name.

The president suggested yesterday that an initiative like this one could help bolster bipartisanship, with a Democratic administration finding common ground with GOP policymakers. But the fact that Republican senators don’t even want to mention the president, even when they’re thrilled with one of his decisions, only reinforces the fact that Republicans just aren’t interested.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.