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Present, But Unaccounted For

One of the greatest political acts of principle I've ever seen happened in 1996. Bob Dole, who was challenging President Clinton for the Oval Office, resigned his Senate seat. Dole decided that he simply couldn't both run for president and perform his Senate duties, and decided that the people of Kansas deserved a full-time Senator.

I was reminded of that in 2004, when John Kerry's already dismal attendance record in the Senate got even worse. I worried that when he did get back to DC, he'd have to be shown around and reminded just where everything was.

This year, with three of the people on the national ticket sitting senators and the fourth a sitting governor, I wondered if any of them would follow Dole's example and give up their very safe seats in order to give their constituents a chance to have the representation to which they are entitled. And I promptly dismissed it.

Now, however, we have a bit of that unfolding. WIth the current fiscal crisis going on, we have a very important debate going on in Congress about a possible bailout bill. This could be the most important thing Congress has faced in at least a few years, and it is precisely the sort of thing that we elect our elected officials (and pay them) to deal with.

Well, John McCain has announced that he puts more weight in the job he currently holds, the job for which he is currently being paid to perform, and will suspend his campaign (even skipping the first scheduled debate, if necessary) while he attends to his senatorial duties.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama will go to the debate, whether or not McCain shows up.

I'm not going to condemn Obama for his decision, though.

We all must play to our strengths. John McCain is running on his experience and leadership and willingness to reach across the aisle towards bipartisan solutions. As such, the best place for him right now is in Congress, working to get a plan passed.

Obama, on the other hand, is a consummate campaigner.

As a legislator, Obama is decidedly lackluster. If he, too, were to return to DC, I think we all know what would happen. Obama would make a big speech filled with generalities about how something must be done. He'd disappear when the real work was being achieved behind closed doors. He'd show up at the end and try to put his name on the compromise. And then, when it came to a vote, he'd vote "present."

Quite frankly, we don't need that right now. Let the guy stay out on the campaign trail, where he won't interfere with the folks doing real work.

As far as him doing the job to which he was elected, while I can give some credence to that argument, I find myself saying to the people of Illinois: "Look, you knew when you elected him in 2004 that he was going to just use the job as a stepping stone to the presidency. He knew he would maybe give you a year or two of attention, then start campaigning full-time. If you believed his statements to the contrary, then you were fools and should have known better."

So let Obama have the campaign trail to himself, have his debate to an empty chair. Let him show that he puts far more stock in getting the new job than actually performing the one he already has, the one he took an oath to perform. It's the least harmful thing he can do.

And that is probably the greatest service he will ever perform for his nation.


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Comments (63)

You might think about check... (Below threshold)
JFO:

You might think about checking the facts Jay.

McCain has missed 64% of the votes in the 110th Congress - Obama 46%.

Both are a disgrace.

McCain hasn't voted since April.

Looks like McCain is an even more "consummate capaigner" than Obama.

I'm guessing you wrote this... (Below threshold)
ExSubNuke:

I'm guessing you wrote this and set it to auto post before Obama made his announcement of "Oh, I'm going to go to DC too."

I think you made your point succinctly, but it's not technically true anymore.

Atrios says McCain gave a s... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Atrios says McCain gave a stump speech at the Clinton Global Initiative this morning. Campaign: suspended! (Ha.)

Two "lee lee's" now?... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Two "lee lee's" now?

hyperbolistThere a... (Below threshold)
JFO:

hyperbolist

There are also reports that McCain's attack ads are still up in battleground states.

Would you care to comment o... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Would you care to comment on McCain's 64% missed votes jhow?

Of course the ads are still... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Of course the ads are still up, JFO. It's a campaign, he'd be an idiot to take them down. Of course, he's a liar for saying he would stop campaigning, but then that would be the most consistent aspect of his joke of an election bid, wouldn't it.

Jay, you're spot on! Thank... (Below threshold)
LeadersLead:

Jay, you're spot on! Thank you for putting it into words for me.

One of my favorite moments ... (Below threshold)

One of my favorite moments of political integrity came in 1998, when Representative Livingston announced that he would not accept the position of Speaker of the House.

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1998/12/19/livingston.quits/

Political integrity maybe, ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Political integrity maybe, personal/moral integrity not so great.

You might think ab... (Below threshold)
You might think about checking the facts Jay.

McCain has missed 64% of the votes in the 110th Congress - Obama 46%.

Both are a disgrace.

McCain hasn't voted since April.

Looks like McCain is an even more "consummate capaigner" than Obama.

While most campaigners all rate up there with their vote records, it might be responsible to show McCains record in the 109th session: 58 vote missed out of 587, (9%)

Perhaps Obama out-voted McCain in this session because he could not find the "present" button?


The best way to tell that M... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

The best way to tell that McCain has made the right decision here, and Obama the wrong one, is the shrieking from the leftroids.

RovinWhen you chec... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Rovin

When you check the facts you should state all the facts - Obama in 109th 1.9% missed.

JFO and hyperbolist,<... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

JFO and hyperbolist,

I'd call you intellectually dishonest, but that would assume that you have an intellect to be dishonest with.

So, instead, I'll just call you flat out dishonest. On the bright side, you are both very good at spouting left wing talking points.

Atrios says McCain gave ... (Below threshold)

Atrios says McCain gave a stump speech at the Clinton Global Initiative this morning. Campaign: suspended! (Ha.)

"Stump speech"? How is making a brief appearance and briefly laying out a plan for The Bailout a stump speech? Oh, and then he headed to D.C. In fairness, Obama spoke to the same conference via satellite then headed to DC for the day then back to Ole Miss on Friday. Is that a stump speech too, hyper?

(Gee, I wonder if Al Gore will make Obama buy carbon offsets for all that jetting around. Doubtful.)

RovinWhen you... (Below threshold)
Rovin

When you check the facts you should state all the facts - Obama in 109th 1.9% missed.

13. Posted by JFO | September 25, 2008 12:37 PM

OK my liberal friend, we can agree that when these folks are campaigning they both rarely vote. But the point here is when CRITICAL legislation is requiring both to participate, one is answering the call while the other is crying about missing a debate. Which one is looking out of my best interest?

5.5 million invested in thi... (Below threshold)

5.5 million invested in this debate. 3000 press credentials passed out. Boy, this is really going to pi** off the media when the debate is postponed because of a silly piece of legislation that may amount to a 700 billion dollar tax debt. Glad to see the media's got their priorities straight.

I still want to know what e... (Below threshold)
ORyan:

I still want to know what exactly McCain is going to do in Washington. For senators like McCain and Obama who do not sit on any of the relevant committees, about all they do is vote, right?

It might as well be, but th... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

It might as well be, but then Obama isn't the one who lied about suspending his campaign, is he, Peter.

Sheik, way to engage our assertions rather than just resort to name calling, friendo. When a 28 percenter insults my intelligence, it just hurts so bad.

There is an enormous... (Below threshold)
Larry:


There is an enormous difference between a long time Senator's influence and one from a new guy. I think Obama is right, what is the point of him going? On the other hand, McCain can make a difference, especially with Republican back benchers, who hold the key to the passage of some sort of bill that restores liquidity.

And here is part of ... (Below threshold)
Larry:


And here is part of what Bill Clinton had to say on the subject of debate delay:

"We know he didn't do it because he's afraid because Sen. McCain wanted more debates," Clinton said, adding that he was "encouraged" by the joint statement from McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

"You can put it off a few days the problem is it's hard to reschedule those things," Clinton said, "I presume he did that in good faith since I know he wanted -- I remember he asked for more debates to go all around the country and so I don't think we ought to overly parse that."

See the rest of the story at:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/09/bill-clinton-do.html

McCain should send Palin to... (Below threshold)
kevin:

McCain should send Palin to stand in at the debate.

Best. debate. ever.

It might as well be, but... (Below threshold)

It might as well be, but then Obama isn't the one who lied about suspending his campaign, is he, Peter.

How is making a brief stop to make comments on a crisis, with none of it couched in terms of what what he would do as POTUS, qualify as "lying" about suspending his campaign? Well, it doesn't, not in any terms--unless, of course, you just graduated from the Lee Ward School of Twisted Logic and Anything Republicans Say or Do Is A Lie!, in which case you're working your onto the School's honor roll.

But I don't think that's the case, and you're too smart for that kind of stupidity.

McCains reason for weaselin... (Below threshold)
max:

McCains reason for weaseling out of the debate is not because he is afraid of Obama, which he most certainly is. The real reason is to cancel the VP debate because he and his campaign have come to the realization that Palin will be eaten alive by Biden.

This is all really moot. Mc... (Below threshold)
Brian:

This is all really moot. McCain didn't actually suspend his campaign (he finished his campaign stops yesterday, and addressed the Clinton Global Initiative today), and Congress is already working on a final package without the benefit of McCain's vast economic insight. This was politicking, nothing more.

Obama would make a... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
Obama would make a big speech filled with generalities about how something must be done.

Jeez, I'm almost cringing at the thought of another "this, that and the other thing" speech from Obama.

A lot of people don't understand the difference between "stop" and "suspend" when talking about the campaign. If the ads themselves are already scheduled as part of the programming, they'll run no matter where the candidates are at this stage of the game.

As far as the voting numbers are concerned, of course it's interesting to note the top five are (or were) running for office. Personally, I think Obama should be at the top with a strong lead since "present" doesn't really count as a solid vote until the strategy is defined.

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/110/senate/vote-missers/

The real reason is... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
The real reason is to cancel the VP debate because he and his campaign have come to the realization that Palin will be eaten alive by Biden.

Or, it could be that Obama decided to go because he is afraid he'll be eaten alive by his teleprompter.

/sarc off

Jeez, max. Still scraping the barrel, are we?

OK, hyperbolist, you lying ... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

OK, hyperbolist, you lying sack of snake feces, check out this post from Wizbang yesterday on McCain suspending his campaign:

hyperbolist is either a liar or stupid or both

I know you troll Wizbang daily, so you must have seen it. Instead, you choose to rely on Atrios, of all "people".

From Jay's post:"So let ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

From Jay's post:"So let Obama...have his debate to an empty chair"

That would most likely end up being a tie. You know, an empty suit debating an empty chair...

You know, an empty... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
You know, an empty suit debating an empty chair...

LOL!

Brian, did you read what Cl... (Below threshold)
Larry:

Brian, did you read what Clinton said? He knows McCain better than you do. All you are doing is trying to pass the Lee Ward school of truth bending to justify something off the wall.

Yea, I don't expect gratitude that McCain is going to Washington to save the Dems and the rest of us. The more you foam at the mouth with ineffective stuff, the better I feel about McCain's chances to win.

Peter F - "(Gee, I wond... (Below threshold)
marc:

Peter F - "(Gee, I wonder if Al Gore will make Obama buy carbon offsets for all that jetting around. Doubtful.)"

No The Goracle will unite with his brother-in-arms The ObamaMessiah and call for "civil disobedience to stop coal plants."

You know, civil disobedience like seen at Denver when anarchists ran rampant destroying anything in there path.

Now there's a picture to sink a campaign fast,
ObamaMessiah with brick in hand, cocked and loaded, and aiming at a Starbucks window....oops not Starbucks, not for the Arugala Man, it would have to be a Wal-Mart. (they sell all them guns doncha know!)

"Or, it could be that Obama... (Below threshold)
max:

"Or, it could be that Obama decided to go because he is afraid he'll be eaten alive by his teleprompter."

That's right, LaMedusa, you just keep your head comfortably buried in the sand.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country recognizes this cynical and cowardly political stunt for what it is.
http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReportUC.aspx?g=54d651a7-a62b-4420-bb32-9dd6b2df8c02

Marc - you outdid your igno... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Marc - you outdid your ignorant self, which is hard to believe. Well, actually it's not.

Civil disobedience was practiced by Ghandi and Martin Luther King you jackass.

The anarchists engage in riots.

The more you write the the more you prove what an idiot you are.

You sound more and more like a fascist. Are you?

maxOoops, another ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

max

Ooops, another impulsive stunt by McBush blows up in his face. How unbelievably unpresidentiai he proves himself to be day after day.

hyper - "Of course the ... (Below threshold)
marc:

hyper - "Of course the ads are still up, JFO. It's a campaign, he'd be an idiot to take them down. Of course, he's a liar for saying he would stop campaigning, but then that would be the most consistent aspect of his joke of an election bid, wouldn't it."

Forgetting the ads are already paid for... there's a little matter of who the hell ever claimed the ads would be pulled.

If you want to score some points with your leftist, dem, leftturd, libtard and progressive friends and assume that go ahead, spew their current meme.

But to the more rational and reasonable among us to stop campaigning means just that given the context of doing it to return to D.C. to do the job they both are paid to do.

As far as the lunacy of obamamessiah debating an empty chair Friday... are you people really that uninformed or election law?

Well, are you?

Are you not aware if that were to occur election law dictates a 90 minute block of air time would be given to McCain just as obamamessiah was given?

Idiots, one and all.

JFO - "Civil disobedien... (Below threshold)
marc:

JFO - "Civil disobedience was practiced by Ghandi and Martin Luther King you jackass."

Sure did know that, I also know groups such as the ELF who are known domestic terrorists will be drawn to such "protests."

If you think for one hot second they and others like them will sit quietly holding protest signs it's you my friend that are the idiot.

Anf for the record, and the... (Below threshold)
marc:

Anf for the record, and the idiots spouting the obamamessiah will just debate and empty chair.... NEWSFLASH. Summary follows:

"The equal time, or more accurately, the equal opportunity provision of the Communications Act requires radio and television stations and cable systems which originate their own programming to treat legally qualified political candidates equally when it comes to selling or giving away air time. Simply put, a station which sells or gives one minute to Candidate A must sell or give the same amount of time with the same audience potential to all other candidates for the particular office.

Now, which one of you numbskuulls perpetuating this myth will go on record in believing obamamessiah will be stupid enough to give McCain 90 minutes of free and equal time?

MarcGod almighty l... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Marc

God almighty learn to stfu you moron. Obama has nothing to do with the air time...it's the Commission on Presidential Debates who are putting on the show.

You're bad enough but when you try to play lawyer you're even worse. Quit watching Boston Legal and pretending....

The more you write the t... (Below threshold)

The more you write the the more you prove what an idiot you are.

You should know, ringmaster.

Hyperbolist? You there? S... (Below threshold)

Hyperbolist? You there? Sheik has called your little bluff. He beat me to it because I just now got home from work. But here, let me quote it for you, since clicking the link may hurt your finger:

In a statement, McCain says he will stop campaigning after addressing former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative session on Thursday and return to Washington to focus on the nation's financial problems.

JFO - "God almighty lea... (Below threshold)
marc:

JFO - "God almighty learn to stfu you moron. Obama has nothing to do with the air time...it's the Commission on Presidential Debates who are putting on the show.

I'm astounded!

You really are that stupid!

So... brain-child...you tell me why a debate that would only have obamamessiah in it as you seem to be suggesting would happen and not be covered by election law?

It doesn't matter WHO puts it on, or WHO participates. if it contains a single candidate while excluding the other running for the same office the network/TV station is required BT LAW to provide the same access to the candidate that was left out.

Do you honestly believe the tripe Oprah put out about why she isn't having any candidate on her show?

She can't by law have one without the other... and she DAMN sure isn't gong to give air time toi McCain or Palin.

Tell me JFO you've well established you possess a limp brain is your manhood limp as well?

Actually, I think that the ... (Below threshold)

Actually, I think that the "equal time" provision doesn't apply here. Obama was NOT offered an open platform; both candidates were offered a chance to debate, and McCain accepted, then backed out. It seems to me that the debate hosts fulfilled their obligations in offering McCain the time, and the good faith is covered by his acceptance. So if Obama wants to show up and debate an empty chair (as someone said, "empty suit vs. empty chair"), then that's just fine by my reading of the rules. It's McCain's loss, but his choice.

J.

Good call JT, not sure I to... (Below threshold)
marc:

Good call JT, not sure I totally agree, but good call.

Well, John McCain has an... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Well, John McCain has announced that he puts more weight in the job he currently holds, the job for which he is currently being paid to perform, and will suspend his campaign (even skipping the first scheduled debate, if necessary) while he attends to his senatorial duties.

Er, ahem:

So, what does a "suspended" campaign look like? As it turns out, it's eerily similar to a regular ol' campaign.

What have we learned since McCain suspended his presidential campaign?

* McCain campaign offices in battleground states are open and operating, just like yesterday.

* McCain's television ads are on the air, just like yesterday.

* McCain media flacks are all over the news networks, just like yesterday.

* McCain's campaign staffers are working, just like yesterday.

* McCain's campaign website is up, soliciting contributions and promoting McCain's message, just like yesterday.

* For the big White House meeting today, Barack Obama was told not to bring any campaign aides, so he's bringing a legislative assistant from his Senate staff. John McCain is bringing a campaign advisor.

Mmmm, gimmic--er, mavericky!

Special note to you obama-b... (Below threshold)
marc:

Special note to you obama-bots, are you going to take the word of your former HeadMaster (in every connotation of the word) Bill Clinton in speaking to McCain's suspension of his campaign:

"We know he didn't do it because he's afraid because Sen. McCain wanted more debates," Clinton said, adding that he was "encouraged" by the joint statement from McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

"You can put it off a few days the problem is it's hard to reschedule those things," Clinton said, "I presume he did that in good faith since I know he wanted -- I remember he asked for more debates to go all around the country and so I don't think we ought to overly parse that."

Or will you nitwits spin that away as well and toss Clinton under the bus as some of you have done to Lieberman?

In short, is Clinton now "Lieberman two point oh"?

Sheik has called your l... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Sheik has called your little bluff. He beat me to it because I just now got home from work. But here, let me quote it for you, since clicking the link may hurt your finger:

In a statement, McCain says he will stop campaigning after addressing former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative session on Thursday and return to Washington to focus on the nation's financial problems.

Oyster, you missed the point. No one challenges that McCain said he was suspending the campaign. Tomorrow. Afternoon. After making another campaign stop. Or two.

The point is, what exactly did he suspend? All I've heard about is that he canceled the debate. But the ads go on. The campaign staff goes on. Palin goes on. And no doubt McCain will be making speeches from Washington this week. So what is suspended? Is that just his way of saying he canceled a few minor appearances? So what? Candidates do that all the time. Hardly a "suspension". The only big news here is that he canceled the debate.

Good call JT, not sure I... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Good call JT, not sure I totally agree, but good call.

LOL! Wow, I've never seen anyone on here break so completely. After spewing vile invectives, and insisting your opinion is mandated BY LAW, even insulting manhood, Jay says the same thing and you totally implode with deference.

You owe someone an apology.

I would really, really like... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I would really, really like to have Obama show up at the debates all alone. Then the electorate will see AGAIN, the fawning they will demonstrate for the Barry, thus the independents thinking the media is unfair. Also, Obama should not go to DC. He has never accomplished a thing there.

JFO, you are so ignorant and unable to think independently. Hyper is a close second. You bring nothing to this site except juvenile name calling. ww

No, he didn't cancel... (Below threshold)
Larry:


No, he didn't cancel the debate. Read what he said. I will be happy to explain the words that have more than one syllable. The debate may or may not happen with McCain's participation depending on what he sees and has seen in Washington and perhaps what he hears from Obama.

And the fairness doc... (Below threshold)
Larry:


And the fairness doctrine was killed years ago. The special rules on candidates still apply to an extent, mostly on what they pay for ads. The contract they signed with the commission is more important and I haven't seen a copy of it. Has anyone else?

brian - "LOL! Wow, I've... (Below threshold)
marc:

brian - "LOL! Wow, I've never seen anyone on here break so completely. After spewing vile invectives, and insisting your opinion is mandated BY LAW, even insulting manhood, Jay says the same thing and you totally implode with deference.

I guess you didn't note I didn't totally agree with JT, but that matters little to you, any bomb thrown is a good bomb whether valid or not.

As far as apologies go... you're about 4,5657,8679,345 behind the power curve.

Go ahead, support the worst VP candidate ever and is a prime example why all the BS is tossed in one direction and none tossed in support of your dimbulb.

The liberals seem to have t... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

The liberals seem to have trouble understanding simple English. McCain said he would stop campaigning after addressing the Clinton Innitiative, which is considered a bipartisan event. He has ordered commercials to be pulled after that address but, because of the multiple locations and medium of commercials, it is unlikely he will be able to pull all and certainly not immediately. He never said he was going to close down his campaign offices. That appears to be a leftist creation.

The point of the matter is that McCain has answered the call again when his country needed him. My guess is that the debates will go on as scheduled with McCain riding in on the success of the bipartisan agreement he helped make possible. Afterwards, he will clean the Untelepromptered One's clock in the debate.

The irony is that McCain reached out to Obama to allow him to share in the national stage during this crisis and Obama refused- until he was dragged down to DC for a cameo appearance.

Brian, that's because I've ... (Below threshold)

Brian, that's because I've mastered a skill you sorely lack: the ability to make a point without coming across as a frothing asshole.

Here's a hint: volume does not trump logic. Passion does not beat reason. "You get more flies with honey than vinegar."

Give it a try some time. it could be a challenge for you, but it's really worth it.

J.

max~That'... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

max~

That's right, LaMedusa, you just keep your head comfortably buried in the sand.

Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I just now saw your "original" comment. The numbers are fine, of course people want to see them debate, and debate they will. So, don't worry, regardless of the numbers in a poll that tells us what America wants to see, and will see, the entertainment has just begun. McCain, Obama, and both veeps are going to debate, so I don't know why the hell you think a survey has anything to do with the outcome or what I said. Or were you just trying to be "clever" by mimicking the "head in sand comment"? Lay off the sauce, man, it's affecting your reasoning.

If he resigned his seat, Mc... (Below threshold)
James H:

If he resigned his seat, McCain'd be shooting his party in the foot. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is a Democrat.

Brian, that's because I'... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Brian, that's because I've mastered a skill you sorely lack: the ability to make a point without coming across as a frothing asshole.

Well, first of all, it wasn't my point.

Here's a hint: volume does not trump logic. Passion does not beat reason.

Apparently it does, because marc ignored logic and reason because it was loud and passionate.

The real reason is... (Below threshold)
The real reason is to cancel the VP debate because he and his campaign have come to the realization that Palin will be eaten alive by Biden.

That reminds me of something Abraham Lincoln said during his first radio address during the War of 1812...

Well McCain reported to dut... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Well McCain reported to duty, was present or accounted for and then the deal blew up. Good job Captain McCain, another plane wreck for you - proverbially speaking of course.

The word is that McCain/Palin have a new bumper sticker:

MCCAIN/PALIN AKA LAUREL & HARDY 2008

This is what kills me. No o... (Below threshold)

This is what kills me. No one knows what all "the deal" consists of, but it's McCain's fault that "the deal", which they don't know any particulars of, hasn't been sealed.

Whoa Oyster lets be fair he... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Whoa Oyster lets be fair here. It was McCain who had to stop everything, like the drama queen he can be, shoot off to Washington and get his party together to make the deal. Apparently he sat mutely in the WH, did nothing to try and get the House republicans in line.

Remember Oyster is was the rightie blogs who were crowing to the heavens about this bold leadership move.

JFO,OK, "lets be f... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

JFO,

OK, "lets be fair here".

You're just a troll who has something useful to say about 1 thread in 100.

There, that's fair.

Now, Just F@#% Off.

You, sir, are an idiot.... (Below threshold)
Concerned Citizen:

You, sir, are an idiot.

What a terrible "article."




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