And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

The McCain-Obama fight is one of those insider-y deals which has nothing to do with the argument and everything to do with changing power dynamics in the Senate.  Currently, McCain is trying to push Obama off the bipartisan reform stage, and using a vicious attacks and the complicit Beltway talking heads to do so.  I'm not just saying that, read the correspondence (or read the partisan blog Redstate's joyous celebrations over McCain's red meat throw).  It's extremely clear that Obama is asking McCain for a procedural request, while McCain's letter is bitterly sarcastic, partisan, and insulting.  Obama's second letter, praising McCain, makes this point especially well.  A key figure here is Lieberman, because he was actually at the meeting where the misunderstanding took place, and because he is part of the bipartian group working on lobbying reform.  As I wrote yesterday:

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.  

Well, on Imus this morning, Don Imus interviewed Lieberman.  And while I don't have the transcript yet, the gist of the conversation was as follows.  Imus asked Lieberman about the fight, and Lieberman alleged that it was all a big misunderstanding and that both men had were interested in getting a good bipartisan bill out of the process.  He implied that both men had cleared up the misunderstanding.  Imus at that point interjected that McCain stands by his letter, and Lieberman changed course.  Lieberman then said that McCain stood by his letter, and Obama stood by his letter, except that Obama probably wishes he were a little clearer.

And then Imus and Lieberman talked about Joe's wife and how she leaves angry diatribes on his voice mail, and that he can just delete them.  Finally, Lieberman added that he hopes it's a one day story, on the third day of the story, on Imus.  Later in the interview, he bragged about his work with McCain on some legislation.  Looks like he made his choice.

Oh, and earlier in the interview, Lieberman agreed with Imus that there was "some nonsense" at Coretta Scott King's funeral.

UPDATE: I should add that Lieberman is a very mild-mannered and nice man, and so if you're not aware of the context this can appear a bit overanalytical. But the choices he's making are clear.

UPDATE: It's not just my imagination. A Senate aide watching the interview this morning sent me this comment:

Absolutely spot on. He sold Obama so far down the river that he's now swimming off the gulf coast.

Tags: Barack Obama, Coretta Scott King, Joe Lieberman, John McCain (all tags)



Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus
And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

He can't help himself. It's in his nature. He likes being an enabler. He wants another kiss from dubya.
by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 03:42AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

I'm still for Joe... Ain't nothing you can do about it because...lyrics deleted because i don't want that song stuck in my head all day.

Grammy's tonight at 8 PM.

by kydem 2006-02-08 03:46AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Grammy's tonight at 8 PM.

Ah, I see. Fiddlin' while Rome burns?

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 03:51AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Maybe you should get honest with yourself and just switch parties kydem. Who are you trying to kid? Anyone who still supports Joe at this point is no Democrat.

by Gary Boatwright 2006-02-08 04:10AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

I can understand supporting Lieberman if you genuinely agree with him. That's not my position, but at least Lieberman still caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, so he's better than someone like Chafee.

Thing is, this is a dispute about honesty and integrity between a Republican Senator and a Democratic Senator. There's nothing to suggest that the Republican Senator's mouth-foaming accusation at the Democratic Senator is anything but self-serving faux indignation, political posturing for 2008. And Lieberman chooses to side with the Republican. It's not even as if he needed to say that McCain was being a psycho. He could have simply said that McCain misunderstood where Obama was coming from and that he didn't agree with him. Instead... Lieberman sided with the Republican over the Democrat.

I'm not going to suggest you switch sides because I know you and I trust that even though we might disagree on a few things, you're honest about your position. But how is this okay with you? I just don't get it.

by Scott Shields 2006-02-08 06:05AM | 0 recs
Throw them both under the bus

I am sick of Joe and I am getting sick of Obama.

Comments like, "I think we have been very good at saying no, but not good enough at saying yes" are wearing thin with me.

There ought to be some show sort of like the old battle of the NFL stars, or some nonsense, where democrats like Lieberman and Barack compete to see who can be more "above the fray".

As for Imus send him and email at and tell him what a used up tool he is.

by dpANDREWS 2006-02-08 03:51AM | 0 recs
The cubicles are open

I am getting sick of Obama

It looks like the rnc intern cubicles are open a little early this morning. Try a little harder, dude.

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 03:55AM | 0 recs
Your post is childish

What?  We hold different views therefore I must work for the RNC?


by dpANDREWS 2006-02-08 04:22AM | 0 recs
Re: No, your post is childish


You just circulate their talking points, memes and frames for them, then?

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 04:24AM | 0 recs
Lessons Learned

We know Joe. He's an old dog and will never change.

Obama - I hope - learned a lesson here, and he should give McCain back exactly what McCain gave him - the back of his hand.

Obama - like Digby sez - needs to quit saying what we "should do" and "should say" - and start doing and saying them.


by zappatero 2006-02-08 04:42AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Last night I met the guy who's taking on Lieberman in the CT primary, Ned Lamont. Until I sat down and talked with him-- and then heard him make a speech to a houseful of activists-- I didn't believe anyone could seriously take on Lieberman. Now I'm convinced Lamont is going to make a serious candidate-- and an absolutely GREAT one for progressives. He's smart and super-aware of all the issues important to people that Beltway-World denizens like Lieberman are so utterly out of touch with. Lamont is also charasmatic and very easy to talk with; awesome candidate! And he comes down firmly in the Jack Murtha camp when it comes to Iraq.

by DownWithTyranny 2006-02-08 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Were you at the thing Rick Jacobs threw last night?  I couldn't make it...and I have checkbook fatigue...and I tired of throwing money at losers.

(which I know is petty, but I so tired of having my name sold to lists.  Enough was enough when I got an email from Tom Vilsack.  

If Ned can make a decent run, tho...I will help out as much as I can.

by nanorich 2006-02-08 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Rick was on the host committee but he wasn't there. It was a cool event and Lamont seemed very different from yer run of the mill candidate comin' to use the California ATM. He's a really personable guy bristling with ideas and a genuine sense of curiosity about other people's points of view. I don't want to rub it in, but you picked the wrong one to miss. To be honest, I had no intention of giving him any money until after I heard him speak and after I got to, so to speak, kick the tires. Now I'll max out on his campaign. I WISH the DCCC was recruiting candidates like Lamont. And when it comes to the DSCC... well compare Lamont to that reactionary jerk Bill Casey they came up with in PA and weep. If Lamont wins a Senate seat progressives will have a new hero. If Casey wins, we'll have another... Joe Lieberman.

by DownWithTyranny 2006-02-08 05:22AM | 0 recs
Ah, well...such is life...

I am sorry I missed it...and thanks for the recap.  I suspect he will be coming out to LA in the coming weeks, but I doubt if I am on the rarified lists which will allow me to rub elbows with early supporters.

He sounds like a tonic to cure the Lieberman sickness, which just gets worse, and tends tending to.  

by nanorich 2006-02-08 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Because McCain spawned corruption culture

Remember it was the MCCAIN-Feingold "reform" bill that created all the loopholes big enough for an armored car full of bribes. He helpd CREATE the current corruption with bogus "reforms" and is ramping up to do it again.

by bernardpliers 2006-02-08 05:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Because McCain spawned corruption culture

This just isn't so. McCain-Feingold didn't do anything (or much, anyway) to stop the lobbying/bribery by campaign contributions that defines the current situation in Republican DC. But Abramoff and Delay Inc were doing their thing in Washington long before 2002, when McCain-Feingold was passed.

You can say it didn't stop the problem, but it certainly did not create it. McCain-Feingold made some modest changes, like banning soft money and issue ads, in conjunction with modestly increasing contribution limits. It neither quelled nor caused the current situation.

by taliesin 2006-02-08 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

No thanks. He lives in Greenwich, in CT-04. We're putting up Diane Farrell again, who lost to Shays by only 52-48. She's a great candidate, and she's going to win this time out.

by Matthew Gertz 2006-02-08 05:40AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

I think Josh Marshall has it right. This is the first in a series of fake stories that Republicans will be able to point back at in 2008 to show that Obama is somehow untrustworthy. In addition, it's a move by McCain to show the depths of his loyalty to the party by smearing an innocent person. The only trouble for McCain is that his letter makes him seem like an angry wacko and hardly goes with his "bipartisan" image.

by KCinDC 2006-02-08 05:43AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Bingo Gertz

by Democraticavenger 2006-02-08 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Republicans have zero respect for rational, gentlemanly bipartisanship.  They like it, because it usually equals capitulation and it gives them cover to say that a Democrat supported it too if there's criticism.  

And a polite gentlemanly response to an attack just gets lost in the noise of TV talking heads spinning things rightward.  We need Democratic representatives who can fight with words. Effective, decisive thrusts and parries.  There's a difference between liking someone who is nice and wanting that person fighting on your behalf.  I like Obama, and I hope he learns how to fight.

by Gracchus for Senate 2006-02-08 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

I would really like to see the transcripts before we make to harsh judgements.

by ira13ping 2006-02-08 07:06AM | 0 recs

This photo is enough.

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Diyanu

What?? Do you realize that every democrat has a picture of them with bush in a equally "toolish" pose?  even the liberal heroes....

by ira13ping 2006-02-11 12:05PM | 0 recs
I agree

Frankly, even Matt's own description doesn't sound like Lieberman "knived Obama in the back."

There are some bloggers who have had it out for Lieberman for quite some time, and will hype up any so called misdeed by Lieberman to show that he's a traitor.  As such, I find their attacks on Lieberman presumptively incredible.

Let's see the transcript and decide for ourselves.

by JPhurst 2006-02-08 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

If I am to follow what I am reading just looking at the trascripts will appear to be misleading, and that we should just trust the judgement of the bloggers who hate Lieberman so much he could walk on water and they would find a way to be angry at him.  As for the remarks of the funeral, I was deeply disappointed in Jimmy Carter at the way he choose his wording at a funeral and I also give much credit to Bill Clinton at the way he handled his wording, I hope most poeple follow the Clinton line rather than the Carter on but we will see.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

"As for the remarks of the funeral, I was deeply disappointed in Jimmy Carter at the way he choose his wording at a funeral..."

It's worth mentioning here that when Mean Ol' Jimmy Carter said what Republicans (and you) now seem to find so reprehensible about the current state of race relations, President Bush was right behind him applauding. So Bush doesn't have a problem with Carter's comments, but you do? Someone's been hitting the wingnut Kool-Aid again...

by Scott Shields 2006-02-08 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

I am not going to comment on Bush's behavior becasue I really do not care what he does.  In my opinion the GOP is hoping that this can turn into the same debacle the Welstone show did.  However I hope that most will focus on what Clinton said rather than Carter, I think both that it is better for the Democrats and I also think it was just the right approach.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 08:40AM | 0 recs
I got a question for you...

do you do everything in your life fearing what Republicans will say about you?

Do you think they give a rat's ass what liberals say about them?

by nanorich 2006-02-08 08:56AM | 0 recs
There you go again

In my opinion the GOP is hoping that this can turn into the same debacle the Welstone show did.

It's in the republicans' nature. They do it by distortion. And you enable them by repeating their crap.

Wellstone memorial

...Franken recounts the Paul Wellstone memorial. The chapter is a good example of the way right-wing pundits aided by their media outlets will distort the facts to the American people. A more chilling theme throughout the book is the way mainstream media organizations buy into the lies and report them as fact. In short, while Democrats grieved in October, Republicans handled. You know the outcome...

You watch far too much cable television.

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

At first I couldn't understand why so much criticism of Lieberman misses the mark or is many times utterly baseless. I think I get it now. Many in the so called 'netroots' particularly despise Joe for his Iraq war support and want him out of office, but beyond some observations about him valuing bipartisanship too much and existing in a pre-Newt, pre-Norquist political mindset, there's not too much really stick him with. To compensate for this problem, many of his seething antagonists, most notably Kos and Matt here, instead rely on a scorched earth tactic similiar to those often run in GOP campaigns. Throw everything you can at Joe even if it's baseless & doesen't stick, take any innocuous quote of his and reframe it into the most comically negative light possible, keep up a consistent singular focus to keep up the meme that Lieberman is a malicious renegade who's constantly causing trouble and 'selling out' his own party.

The most recent addition to this strategy is the ridiculous one just conceieved by Matt Stoller where instead of spinning an issue as negatively as possible, he creates one out of thin air. He highlights the recent tiff between McCain & Obama and puncuates it by asking the bizarro question "How will Lieberman respond?" and creating an artificial choice of resonse between coming down against McCain...or, selling out a member of his own party. Lieberman speaks on the matter and the most damning thing he says about Obama is "He probably wished he made himself more clear!" which Matt interprets as "Lieberman knifes Obama in the back!"

Matt, anticipating some skepticism over whether some will interpret Lieberman's inoccuous remakr as 'knifing someone in the back' reminds us that the Senator who allegedly can't stop bashing & criticizing fellow Democrats is "a very nice & polite man" and some times you have to dig deep and interpret his words for what they really mean. Make no mistake says Matt, he's clearly made his choice.

The choice of course, that Matt invented just yesterday.

by Epitome23 2006-02-08 06:13PM | 0 recs
Surely, you jest?
...but beyond some observations about him valuing bipartisanship too much...

Bipartisanship? Bipartisanship? To have such you actually need two parties in the exchange. How flip of you to suggest that this mythical land actually exists, absent any evidence that the republicans and this administration engage in "bipartisanship". When they other side of the "bipartisan" divide doesn't play the game then his behavior only leaves sad lonely Joe the role of a rube or worse, a very much aware enabler. Neither is forgivable
by Michael Bersin 2006-02-09 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Lieberman is a DINO through and through.  I wonder why he just doesn't switch political parties and be done with it?  Remember folks, Joementum was first out of his seat during the SOTU -- he could barely contain his joy and enthusiasm for every point Bush tried to make.  He's nauseating.

by Dartanyon 2006-02-08 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

I disagree.  Would a DINO favor the environment?  Would they be pro-choice?  No, a DINO would not.  I come from a state where most of the Dems vote Republican in November.  Why?  I don't know.

And one of the times that Joe stood up was right after a remark on Israel (the way that Jon Stewart spun it).

by kydem 2006-02-08 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

>Would a DINO favor the environment?  Would they be pro-choice?  

If one comes from a state where the environment and choice are deal breakers for even Republicans, of course he would support them.  There is no downside.

He is a is any Democrat who attempts to excuse his behavior.

by nanorich 2006-02-08 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

First of all a funeral is supposed to be a show of respect for the dead and the deads family.  Not to turn this into a period of airing out one's frustrations on the system.  Now if I am to understand the Imus program, Lieberman is being blamed for harming Obama not because he said anything critical of Obama but because he failed to critisize McCain.  I think some people around here are looking for an excuse to throw mud at Joe and will look for any excuse to do so.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

>Not to turn this into a period of airing out one's frustrations on the system.

It would be an insult to both of the Kings' memories NOT to talk about the issues which defined their lives.  

I really wish that all you supposed Democrats had a MINIMAL GRASP of the heritage of King, and his life's work.  

Bush's presence at Mrs. King's funeral was NOT a photo op for this guy.  It was about the only opportunity the man has had to witness the reality of his actions.

Why is it that so hard for "moderate" Republicans like you to understand?

by nanorich 2006-02-08 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

When I think of Mrs King, I think of someone who had to raise her children without the help of a father.  I think she must have instilled the values of what was expected of them, as far as I can tell they have all become good contributors to society.  I beleive that this was theme Bill Clinton was trying to make, and I as a parent nothing can be better said of.  I also took it to heart when he challanged the locals that if they wished to fight for something start with the King center itself, for some wish to turn it over to the state of Georgia and I think that would be a mistake.  

AS for Bush I do think it was a photo op but that is my opinion.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 09:11AM | 0 recs
Do you tell all African Americans

How to conduct their funerals?

by Teaser 2006-02-08 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Do you tell all African Americans

I have been to black funerals on several occasions but never one with a television camera.  If you have noticed the one I am saying was out of line was Jimmy Carter who I think should have know better, from I saw the black speakers did a better job of their conduct than he did.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 09:14AM | 0 recs
Evidently, yes he does

It's evident that most others don't.

From firedoglake

...And the condescending tone used by critics of Rev. Lowery, a man who helped to found the SCLC with Dr. King and others, who fought on the front lines of the civil rights movement beside Dr. and Mrs. King and so many others, and who has dedicated his life to the principles of equality and liberty and peace -- to say that he had no right to speak as he did ignores the whole history of the civil rights movement.

The bowtie tries to get fussy:

...CARLSON: It's not hard to hear that [your remarks] and not draw the obvious conclusion that that's an attack on President Bush, which of course is your right to do, and I think completely fair. But again, it seemed very uncomfortable to say something like that in a funeral with the president right there. It seemed like bad manners.

LOWERY: Well, I don't think so. I certainly didn't intend for it to be bad manners. I did intend for it to -- to call attention to the fact that Mrs. King spoke truth to power. And here was an opportunity to demonstrate how she spoke truth to power about this war and about all wars.

And I think that, in the context of the faith, out of which the movement grows, we have always opposed war. We've always fought poverty. And we base our -- our argument on -- on the faith, on the fact that Jesus taught us. He identified with the poor. "I was hungry; you didn't feed me. I was naked; you didn't clothe me. I was in prison; you didn't see about me." He talked about war. He talked about he who lives by the sword.

So I'm comfortable with the fact that I was reflecting on Mrs. King's tenacity against war, her determination to witness against war and to speak truth to power...

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

If I had to guess I would say you are not a parent, becasue it you where you would no that there is nothing to say to better to someone than to say they raised their childern right and their children tunred out to be fine members of society, which hers did, it is even more remarkable because unlike Bobby Kennedy's children who also lost thier father at the same time they had a huge trust fund and the King children did not.  I did not always agree on her politics, but there is a life outside of it, if you have not tried it try it sometime's you will like it.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 11:08AM | 0 recs
I wonder what Martin Luther King, Jr. would say...

Eulogy for the Young Victims of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing

By Martin Luther King, Jr.

18 September 1963 - Birmingham, Ala.

Delivered at funeral service for three of the children - Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley - killed in the bombing. A separate service was held for the fourth victim, Carole Robertson.

This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God. They entered the stage of history just a few years ago, and in the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts exceedingly well. Now the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes to a close. They are now committed back to that eternity from which they came.

These children-unoffending, innocent, and beautiful-were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.

And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician [Audience:] (Yeah) who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say
to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats (Yeah) and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans.
(Speak) They have something to say to every Negro (Yeah) who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream....

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-08 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree

This man is about to enter the last half of his last term his actions are of not just that relevent in a Washington sense but I live in world where the goings on of the Washington class just do not mean that much, but a school board meeting or a country commissioners meeting can really get them going.

by THE MODERATE 2006-02-08 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Maybe it will help Obama realize who his supporters and friends really are, and who they aren't.

by liberal elite 2006-02-08 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

Considering the title of this post, the actual content is once again, rather underwhelming. He says it was a misunderstanding, and says Obama probably wishes he made himself clearer, where's the "Obama's mother wears army boots" remark?

As for this mysterious Senate Aid being cited as an authority, did this person hear something that we didn't?

by Epitome23 2006-02-08 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

I guess we will never actually get the transcript from Matt.  Just Matt's "jist" of the matter.

What's particularly funny is that Matt admit's that Lieberman comes across as "mild mannered and nice" and that you have to be "aware of the context" to understand what a vicious "knife in the back" this is.

So let's review.

1)  We are allegedly supposed to hate Lieberman because he makes other Democrats look bad.

2)  People who are "in the know" like Matt and Markos can figure out the "subtext" of these remarks to show what a supposedly vicious betrayal this is.

3)  Yet the average person listening to Imus would not consider Lieberman to have stabbed Obama in the back.

4)  Still, this is supposed to be an example of how Lieberman makes other democrats look bad, because those oh so savvy analysts like Matt know what's going on.

In other words, forget about actual votes, or even actual perception.  Lieberman is bad because he doesn't satisfy the needs of people like the diarist and others in the liberal blogosphere, who basically just want to hear someone on the left tell them what they want to hear.  Better that you feel good and validated than you actually have candidates that most of America admires, right?

by JPhurst 2006-02-09 09:45AM | 0 recs

to the best of my knowledge, Matt hasn't posted a transcritpt yet.  Let's wait.  

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Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus
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Re: And Lieberman Knifes Obama on Imus

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