Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register Wednesday, praising the Senate’s progress on legislation like a farm bill and the the Employment Non-Discrimination Act while acknowledging that the chamber is experiencing a “rough period” of partisanship that undermines other issues.
Harkin recounted one stinging example to the newspaper’s editorial board, dating back to a July 15 closed-door meeting about filibuster rules, in which one unnamed senator said his constituents simply couldn’t relate to the president.
“I’m not naming any names, but one senator got up from a southern state and said, ‘Well, you’ve got to understand that to my people down here, Obama seems like he’s exotic,’” Harkin told the newspaper. “That he’s just exotic, he doesn’t share our values.”
Asked if he could name another American era as polarizing as today, Harkin said “Sure — the Civil War.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.