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Bipartisanship! Everybody’s talking about it!

by Jonah Lowenfeld

September 18, 2012 | 12:49 am

Happy New Year, dear Jewish readers! Anyone see a Congressman (or two) in synagogue this Rosh Hashanah?

This won’t be quite like the usual business on this blog. Unlike every other post, this one won’t be primarily about the race between Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman. Instead, let’s talk about the latest fad this campaign season: partisan lawmakers citing their willingness to work across the aisle.

On Sunday, the New York Times cast a sideways glance at the Republicans who are trotting out this argument. (Remember Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed nominee who knocked Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar out of the race for his own Senate seat by attacking Lugar as too bipartisan? He now says he’ll “work with anyone.”)

In the 30th district, the two long-serving Republican Senators who endorsed Berman earlier this month both used the B-word in their statements. (Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) praised Berman’s “bipartisan leadership,” while Sen. John McCain (R – Ariz.) used the word two times in four sentences.)

This despite the National Journal ranking Berman the 69th most liberal member of Congress in 2011, more liberal than 360 of his colleagues, including Sherman, who was merely the 85th most liberal member based on his 2011 votes.

The Sherman campaign has its own Republican supporters – local elected officials, including Los Angeles City Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Dennis Zine – but they weren’t enough to convince the Daily News editorial board of Sherman’s bipartisan chops. In its endorsement of Berman last week, the paper said that his “most important quality” was his being better at “show[ing] more cooperation and less partisanship.”

Ah, bipartisanship. Everyone wants to claim they are – or will be – good at it, including another local congressional candidate, Bill Bloomfield. The Republican-turned-Independent is running against Henry Waxman, and Bloomfield’s largely self-funded campaign hinges on the argument that “hyper-partisanship” is what’s causing the gridlock in Washington.

I interviewed Bloomfield not too long ago for an article about the race. Sitting in his campaign office, he told me that if elected, he’d not caucus with either party, and that he’d like to overhaul the tax code by starting effectively from scratch.

Ambitious words from a would-be freshman congressman, and very bipartisan-sounding, to boot.

But when I asked Bloomfield, who has never before held public office, how he would’ve voted on the Affordable Care Act, he declined to say how he would have voted.

Bipartisanship is easy to talk about during campaign season. Should be interesting to see if the folks in Washington can manage some of that on Nov. 7.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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As a result of California’s 2011 redistricting, two Jewish Democratic incumbent congressmen, Howard Berman (D - Valley Village) and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), have both...

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