Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain pulled off the presidential campaign trail just long enough on Wednesday night to cast what both of these cautious contenders hope will be “safe” votes favor of a financial bailout scheme based on the $700 billion plan proposed last week by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

In doing so, they joined an overwhelming majority of their fellow senators in passing the plan by a 74-25 vote. Forty Democrats and 33 Republicans voted with Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats but backs McCain, to advance a slighting altered version of the Paulson plan.

The Senate move sends the measure back to the House with “sweeteners” added in hopes of attracting enough Democratic and Republican votes to secure its passage in a chamber that rejected the Paulson plan on Monday.

No one was shocked that Obama and McCain went along with the Bush administration’s plan to allow the federal government to begin buying up hundreds of billions of dollars worth of supposed assets from troubled financial institutions — a move designed to rescue Wall Street speculators and bad bankers from the mess they into which they steered their firms and the economy.

Obama summed up the Washington consensus when he said during the floor debate, “There’s no doubt that there may be other plans out there that, had we had two or three or six months to develop … might serve our purposes better. But we don’t have that kind of time. And we can’t afford to take a risk that the economy of the United States of America and, as a consequence, the worldwide economy could be plunged into a very, very deep hole.”

But not everyone was buying that line.

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican who has been a key player on banking issues and who actually had the wisdom to oppose the deregulation moves of the late 1990s that helped create the current crisis, told senator Senate were in the process of having “failed the American people” by acting hastily.

“I agree we need to do something,” said Shelby. “[But] we haven’t spent any time figuring out whether we’ve picked the best choice.”

Equally blunt was Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, who rejected the bailout plan as “deeply flawed.”

“It fails to offset the cost of the plan, leaving taxpayers to bear the burden of serious lapses of judgment by private financial institutions, their regulators, and the enablers in Washington who paved the way for this catastrophe by removing the safeguards that had protected consumers and the economy since the great depression,” said Feingold. “The bailout legislation also fails to reform the flawed regulatory structure that permitted this crisis to arise in the first place. And it doesn’t do enough to address the root cause of the credit market collapse, namely the housing crisis. Taxpayers deserve a plan that puts their concerns ahead of those who got us into this mess.”

Feingold pondered seeking the presidency this year, but decided against doing so.

That gave him the freedom that the man he backs for the job, Obama, and the man he has frequently worked with in the Senate, McCain, seemed to lack on Wednesday night.

Like the other senators who voted “no” — a left-right coalition of 16 Republicans and eight Democrats and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders that withstood overwhelming pressure from the White House and Wall Street — Feingold, Shelby and their compatriots rejected what bailout-critic Sanders says will put Wall Street’s burden on the backs of the American middle class.

“The bailout package is far better than the absurd proposal originally presented to us by the Bush administration, but is still short of where we should be,” argued Sanders. “If a bailout is needed, if taxpayer money must be placed at risk, if we are going to bail out Wall Street, it should be those people who have caused the problem, those people who have benefited from President Bush’s tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, those people who have taken advantage of deregulation who should pick up the tab, not ordinary working people.”

Unfortunately, Barack Obama and John McCain lacked the time, the insight or the inclination to recognize that reality.

Here is a rundown of how the presidential candidates and their 98 colleagues approached Wednesday night’s vote:

Akaka (D-HI), Yea

Alexander (R-TN), Yea

Allard (R-CO), Nay

Barrasso (R-WY), Nay

Baucus (D-MT), Yea

Bayh (D-IN), Yea

Bennett (R-UT), Yea

Biden (D-DE), Yea

Bingaman (D-NM), Yea

Bond (R-MO), Yea

Boxer (D-CA), Yea

Brown (D-OH), Yea

Brownback (R-KS), Nay

Bunning (R-KY), Nay

Burr (R-NC), Yea

Byrd (D-WV), Yea

Cantwell (D-WA), Nay

Cardin (D-MD), Yea

Carper (D-DE), Yea

Casey (D-PA), Yea

Chambliss (R-GA), Yea

Clinton (D-NY), Yea

Coburn (R-OK), Yea

Cochran (R-MS), Nay

Coleman (R-MN), Yea

Collins (R-ME), Yea

Conrad (D-ND), Yea

Corker (R-TN), Yea

Cornyn (R-TX), Yea

Craig (R-ID), Yea

Crapo (R-ID), Nay

DeMint (R-SC), Nay

Dodd (D-CT), Yea

Dole (R-NC), Nay

Domenici (R-NM), Yea

Dorgan (D-ND), Nay

Durbin (D-IL), Yea

Ensign (R-NV), Yea

Enzi (R-WY), Nay

Feingold (D-WI), Nay

Feinstein (D-CA), Yea

Graham (R-SC), Yea

Grassley (R-IA), Yea

Gregg (R-NH), Yea

Hagel (R-NE), Yea

Harkin (D-IA), Yea

Hatch (R-UT), Yea

Hutchison (R-TX), Yea

Inhofe (R-OK), Nay

Inouye (D-HI), Yea

Isakson (R-GA), Yea

Johnson (D-SD), Nay

Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting

Kerry (D-MA), Yea

Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea

Kohl (D-WI), Yea

Kyl (R-AZ), Yea

Landrieu (D-LA), Nay

Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea

Leahy (D-VT), Yea

Levin (D-MI), Yea

Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea

Lincoln (D-AR), Yea

Lugar (R-IN), Yea

Martinez (R-FL), Yea

McCain (R-AZ), Yea

McCaskill (D-MO), Yea

McConnell (R-KY), Yea

Menendez (D-NJ), Yea

Mikulski (D-MD), Yea

Murkowski (R-AK), Yea

Murray (D-WA), Yea

Nelson (D-FL), Nay

Nelson (D-NE), Yea

Obama (D-IL), Yea

Pryor (D-AR), Yea

Reed (D-RI), Yea

Reid (D-NV), Yea

Roberts (R-KS), Nay

Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea

Salazar (D-CO), Yea

Sanders (I-VT), Nay

Schumer (D-NY), Yea

Sessions (R-AL), Nay

Shelby (R-AL), Nay

Smith (R-OR), Yea

Snowe (R-ME), Yea

Specter (R-PA), Yea

Stabenow (D-MI), Nay

Stevens (R-AK), Yea

Sununu (R-NH), Yea

Tester (D-MT), Nay

Thune (R-SD), Yea

Vitter (R-LA), Nay

Voinovich (R-OH), Yea

Warner (R-VA), Yea

Webb (D-VA), Yea

Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea

Wicker (R-MS), Nay

Wyden (D-OR), Nay