McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Josh Marshall makes an excellent point on the McCain-Obama tiff:

But the key here to note is what's behind this dust-up. Obama is a rising star among the Democrats. Republicans want to lay a backstory for feature criticisms and character attacks against him. So, for instance, if Obama is the vice presidential candidate in 2008, they want to have a history of attacks on him banked, ones that allege he's a liar, or too partisan, or untrustworthy, whatever. It doesn't even really matter. What matters is that there already be an established history of them. Point being, that in early 2008, they want to be able to simply refer back to Obama's 'character issue', the questions about his honesty, etc. rather than have to make the case on its merits.

That's not surprising. One only needs to think back to the Gore story, etc.

What shouldn't be missed here, though, is that Sen. McCain is quite consciously and deliberately making himself a part of this. Why? Simple. Because he needs to get right with the GOP establishment in DC. (Indeed, he probably also wants to be the future beneficiary of the sliming.) Being loved by moderates and progressives doesn't cut it for getting the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Don't miss why he's doing this. It's the roll-out of the slime Obama campaign. And he's leading the charge.

We'll learn a lot from how Obama responds.

This is worth expanding on a bit.  There were two other people at the meeting - Susan Collins, moderate Republican from Maine and Democrat Joe Lieberman, the moderate Democrat from Connecticut.  Lieberman can and will weigh in on this conflict, and were he a reasonable man I would imagine he would take one look at the series of letters and realize that John McCain was way out of line.  Now, this is the critical point to keep in mind - Lieberman is the only Democratic Senator who was in the room at the time, so the press will pay special attention to what he says.  Lieberman can call out McCain on his partisan slash-and-burn strategy, and buttress Obama's claim to bipartisanship.  Or he can participate in the smear and ask both sides to calm down, even though this attack is entirely one-sided and it is very clear that Obama is seeking a bipartisan good ethics bill.  

That's what I'm watching.  Will Lieberman support his fellow Democratic Senate colleague in pursuit of a well-structured bipartisan approach to ethics reform?  Or will he support John McCain's (who he quasi-endorsed for President) attempt to derail the whole process?

And Ned Lamont should be watching this too.  If Obama gets sandbagged by his colleague, it'll test a lot of insiders' patience with Lieberman.  The netroots can't beat Lieberman alone, but with enough enemies, we can help Lieberman beat himself.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE: I'm told Pryor attended part of the meeting as well.

Tags: Barack Obama, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Ned Lamont (all tags)

Comments

27 Comments

Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Obamma is coming to CT in March for the JJB, so here is hoping Joe backs up Obama, cause McCain is being a tool.

by Democraticavenger 2006-02-07 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

As a DINO, don't expect Lieberman to come to the defense of Sen. Obama.  Especially, since McCain is the presumptive GOP frontrunner in 2008, and Joementum doesn't want to burn any bridges.

by Dartanyon 2006-02-07 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

I have a call in to Lieberman's office.

by Matt Stoller 2006-02-07 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

I thought Ben Nelson was there, too?

phat

by phatass 2006-02-07 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Well, I think Maine Dems should be paying close attention as well. Collins has been coasting on her "moderate" slot the same way as Stowe and Chaffee. This is a good point for the folks in maine to start pushing her to be honest, or start prepping a warchest against her.

That doesn't mean Lieberman is off the hook. His silence to date is just another good reason to hop on the Lamont bandwagon.

by ElitistJohn 2006-02-07 11:56AM | 0 recs
One more reason

It should also be noted that the two biggest stories regarding the Bush admin. have been Bush's lackluster SOTU address, and the domestic spying program.

A McCain-Obama fight is a great way to get everyone to take their minds off those two sore points.

And the fact that McCain is such a knowing and willing tool jives with McCain falling into line after Rove's recent threat to GOP senators.

This tiff seems to be serving numerous purposes. Classic Rovian offensive.

by LiberalFromPA 2006-02-07 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

I just came over from the Hotline Site, usually straight shooters, and their take is that Obama was working with McCain, then turned around and made some insinuations about him after being read the riot act by Harry Reid on party disipline and the "culture of corruption" meme.

by wayneseib 2006-02-07 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Matt,

Good post, but you called Lieberman a "moderate Democrat."  Uh-huh.

by global yokel 2006-02-07 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Interesting that Russ Feingold, the Senate's leading Dem on election reform was not part of the meeting.

Also, it's worth noting that the front page of Lieberman's web site has a photo of him standing next to Obama with a link to a press release dated Feb 1.

Personally, I think McCain came unglued over the fact that Obama made a public statement that the Democrats will not accept marking up the election reform legislation outside of the normal committee process.  

by salvador 2006-02-07 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

As DemocraticAvenger pointed out, Lieberman has invited Obama to the CT JJB dinner in March (THE CT Democratic social/fundraising event of the year).  What will be interesting is to see if Joe shows up, and how he's received by the Dems.  He was not there last year, and apparently was pissed at his lukewarm reception the year before.  It will be very embarrassing for Joe if he attends this year and gets a cold shoulder from the all Dem audience.

by MVD 2006-02-07 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

I put no faith in Mark Pryor.  Mark will uphold the Pryor tradition:

(1)  Tell Arkansas whatever is needed to get elected;

(2)  Go to Washington and sell out;

(3)  Repeat as necessary.

Just like his Old Man.

I am so old that I remember when Arkansas sent real Democrats to Congress.  Fulbright, McClellan, Mills, and Clinton are just a few examples.

by bhelverson 2006-02-07 01:52PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Which Clinton did the Arkansas voters send to congress?

(They did gave us the best President of my lifetime, President Clinton, for which I am grateful)

by molly bloom 2006-02-08 03:41AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

With the political culture of Arkansas the way it is, you should be thankful you send ANY Democrats to congress. In fact Arkansas may be a good model for how Dems can succeed in red states, since Arkansas is conservative But still maintains a vibrant Democratic party.

"Good post, but you called Lieberman a "moderate Democrat."  Uh-huh."

Is he not a 'moderate Democrat'?

by Epitome23 2006-02-07 02:33PM | 0 recs
Nah
Is he not a 'moderate Democrat'?

Nah, he's a dubya enabler - and he does now have a primary opponent.
by Michael Bersin 2006-02-07 04:18PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Clock is ticking, and Joementum has said nothing.

When can I donate to Lamont?

by ElitistJohn 2006-02-07 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

You can donate as of today - he crossed the 1,000 in-state volunteer threshold.

by DCFD Rudi 2006-02-08 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

Looks like McCain is too angry to run for president. People don't like to vote for angry people.

by leftyDarnell 2006-02-07 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

...not just angry. mcCain had a stark raving hissy fit. people don't like to vote for a hissy fit-in-chief.

by irene adler 2006-02-07 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

As all good scientists will tell you:

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SUCTION.

by blues 2006-02-07 04:05PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?

This calculated smear bears the mark of Rove's personal signature. Rove believes it is most bewildering to the object of a smear and the most injurous to the reputation at stake when one attacks the adversary on his publically acknowledged strengths, in this case, Obama's reputation for sincerity and forthrightness.  

John Kerry was blindsided by the Swiftboaters because he believed too long that no one would take the swiftboat attacks seriously - let's hope that Obama is a quicker study on this.  

Lieberman will be useless - we need to get Howard Dean to weigh in - Dean's takedown of Blitzer when Blitzer regurgitated the Republican talking point about Abramoff being a bipartisan scandal was blunt and relentless. It's also the way every winger slur needs to confronted.

by ananke 2006-02-07 05:25PM | 0 recs
McCain kicked Obama's ass

Plain and simple.  I'm sorry to say it, but it is true.  I've heard a lot of whining by Dems, and I find it rather pathetic.

Let's look at how Josh Marshall puts it: "It's the roll-out of the slime Obama campaign."

Sorry, but that is a load of crap.  Suggesting that McCain had an illegitimate black baby was sliming.  Claiming that Kerry faked his war record was sliming.  Suggesting that Obama is acting to gain political advantage is not sliming.  It is garden variety politics.  And Democrats can go f--- themselves if they can't learn to play the game.

Marshall does have one thing right.  McCain is laying the foundation for future attacks.  As well he should.  McCain is a smart politician.  Instead of crying into their beers about McCain, Democrats should be asking themselves how they can prepare for 2008.

They could do worse than to start by attacking McCain's image as a straight-shooting, centrist "maverick".  But what was Obama's response to McCain?

"The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you nor my willingness to find a bipartisan solution to this problem.

Good Lord!  McCain kicks him in the teeth and Obama responds by reiterating his "deep respect" for McCain?!?  

by space 2006-02-07 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain kicked Obama's ass

McCain is a fraud.

Obama has class.
McCain is just a Bush lapdog with no pride.

by v2aggie2 2006-02-07 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain kicked Obama's ass

McCain is a fraud.

No kidding.  Which is why Obama should SAY THAT.  Saying that he respects McCain tells the public one of the following:

(a) McCain is respectable and even Obama admits it.
(b) McCain is not respectable but Obama is too stupid to see it.
(c) McCain is not respectable but Obama is too cowardly to challenge him.
(d) McCain is not respectable but Obama will say he is for political purposes.

Excuse me, but which of those choices is desirable?  I vote for none of the above.

Here's a suggestion for Democrats:  Tell the truth.  Imagine if Obama responded as follows.

"I am greatly disappointed with Sen. McCain's attack on my character.  While Sen. McCain ostensibly has a reputation for ethics, bipartisanship, and integrity, his greatest reputation is for self-promotion.  No other Senator can match him in appearances on the Sunday talk shows.

I wish I could believe that Senator McCain was legitimately upset at my principled decision to favor committee investigations over a task force.  However I suspect that his ire had more to do a fear that he might not get enough credit.  

While I am always willing to reach across the aisle to solve our countries problems, such attempts at bipartisanship are impossible when they are reciprocated with temper tantrums and mud-slinging.  Perhaps Senator McCain will take a time-out and reconsider his attitude."

by space 2006-02-07 09:06PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain kicked Obama's ass

But that's not Obama's style, and it isn't who he is.
It isn't how he got to the Senate.

And I'm not going to change his style -- or him.
He's earned my respect over the last 2 years -- and it's more than just in the political realm for me.

I don't think Obama should waste anytime on an hack like McCain.  Even a letter in response was more than McCain deserved

by v2aggie2 2006-02-08 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain kicked Obama's ass

But that's not Obama's style, and it isn't who he is.
It isn't how he got to the Senate.

Well then, I guess it isn't his style to be President.  In case you didn't notice, Obama got to be a Senator by running against a bat-shit crazy, black, carpetbagger Republican. I can guarantee you that a 2008 Presidential run will not be a cakewalk.

If all Obama wants to do is remain Illinois' Senator for the indefinite future, then this style of phony civility may be enough.  But if he ever wants to lead the entire country, he will have to learn how to stand up to bullys and tell the truth.

by space 2006-02-08 05:08AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain kicked Obama's ass

Obama defeated two, far better funded candidates in the Democratic Party.

He was going to beat Ryan, another very well-funded candidate in the general election before he dropped out.

Obama defied the conventional wisdom that a minority candidate would have a difficult time reaching the US Senate.

And you're saying he only won because he went against Alan Keyes?

You've got to be kidding.

by v2aggie2 2006-02-09 01:04PM | 0 recs
A better Question

How will Democrats respond? We will talk about McCain's anger management problem... after all what sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  

by molly bloom 2006-02-08 03:43AM | 0 recs

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