The Obama campaign disputes the description of Obama's record of bipartisan achievement as broadly liberal ( -- "Obama's bipartisanship is more rhetorical and has never really extended outside a broadly liberal comfort zone" -- ), and points to his work with Dick Lugar on loose nukes, his pressuring Democrats on ethics reform (which led to anonymous holds on the bill), his work with Republicans to reform the death penality in Illinois, his work with Sen. Coburn to put all spending bills online.

I think the characterization holds. Working with Dick Lugar on loose nukes was a good thing, and an example of Obama's willingness to write legislation Republicans, but it didn't piss off liberals. (Who's in favor of looser nukes?) Same thing with health care in Illinois, or the death penalty. Obama rightly claims as an accomplishment the pressure he put on Democrats to accept more aggressive ethics provisions -- brave, in an institutional sense, but exactly what liberals would have expected a reformer to do. Obama's record is solid, but he simply hasn't risked as much as McCain has. That may well be a consequence of their relative lenghts of services, but it's true.

Now -- an Obama campaign spokesperson did not mention one area in Obama HAS gone outside of his comfort zone, and that's with his support for the FISA compromise. Liberals are pissed off; Democrats in Congress are angry, and Obama went ahead and did what he thouht was right. So FISA's a good talking point for him. I'm surprised the Obama campaign isn't using it.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.