McCain-Obama: How Will Lieberman Respond?
by Matt Stoller, Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 11:04:38 AM EST
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.
UPDATE: I'm told Pryor attended part of the meeting as well.