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.

Shut Up Shut Up Shut Up: The Republicans Control Congress

Read Chris Bowers' piece 'The Republicans Control Congress.'

I just read this awful and pathetically narrow piece of 'news' from the New York Times:  Some Democrats Are Sensing Missed Opportunities.  All of the Democratic elected leaders that are quoted look dumb:  Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, Phil Bredesen, Evan Bayh, Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Barbara Boxer come off as people looking to someone else to lead.  Here are a few rules of thumb for elected Democrats:

1) No elected Democrat should talk to Adam Nagourney on a strategy piece.

2) If you are an elected Democrat, just stop talking about what Democrats need to do to be elected.  Tell the country that Republicans are in charge and if people want a change they should vote for new leaders.

3) Any 'senior Democratic advisor' who blasts Democrats needs to be called out as not representing the party.  I didn't vote for senior Democratic advisors, and neither did you.  I don't represent the party, and neither do you.

4) My party elected Howard Dean, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi - you are our elected leaders so quit pretending like there's a mythical Democratic leader out there who speaks for us.

5) And read Digby.  NO MORE PROCESS TALK!!!!

6) If you don't know what to say use the following preface to every single one of your sentences.  "You have to keep in mind that the Republicans control Congress, which means...."

There's more...

Deval Patrick Creeping Closer in MA Governor Primary

From Swing State Project, which has become a must-read for me:

Independent primary polls seem to be all too rare. Fortunately, Suffolk University has given us one for the Dems running for MA-Gov (registered voters, no trendlines):

Tom Reilly: 39<
Deval Patrick: 30
Undecided: 31
(MoE: ±4.9%)

Suffolks says that Reilly once had a forty-point lead, but that was a year ago, so I'm not including that as a trendline. Both men beat the likely GOP candidate, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, though Reilly's margin is quite a bit bigger. He wins 47-32, while Patrick wins 39-32.

However, Reilly has much higher name recognition (35-33 favorability, and an additional 25% who've heard of him but have no opinion), while Patrick is at 19-11-33. In other words, only 8% of respondents said they've never heard of Reilly, while 38% said that about Patrick. If Patrick can close that name reco gap, then Reilly is probably in trouble - something which will no doubt delight many netroots activists.

I used to live in Massachusetts, and it always struck me a state full of liberal voters with a government full of conservatives.  It took the state Supreme Court, for instance, to weigh in on civil unions/gay marriage.  As I've come to understand political machinery, this makes more and more sense.  Right-wing Democrats like the pro-lifer Tom Finneran, who would be a Republican in any other state, succeed in what should be a progressive state because of a mix of superior grassroots organization and the rapacious demands of television politics.  The internet challenges this whole model, and allows progressives like Deval Patrick to create new sources of political power.  

This is a clear example of a machine candidate, Tom Reilly, against a progressive upstart.  One thing the right-wing did well is to create models for their America before asserting a claim to national leadership - Reagan governed California by crippling the state's revenue stream and Bush governed Texas by crippling everything else, and we are now living in their America.  Our failure as progressives has to do with our failure to imagine what our country should look like, and one of the reasons there's a push to get back to the states is because we need to actually govern progressively on a local level before we can do it on a national level.  That's why I'm excited about people like Eliot Spitzer, and why I worked for Jon Corzine.  It's also why I hope Obama goes back to Illinois as Governor someday.

However much I like those political figures, however, they succeeded not through new models of generating political force but by taming the old.  Spitzer for instance is a TV creature, and he doesn't need the internet.  This is not to take anything away from him, he's awesome, it's just that politicians tend to do what works for them, not what looks neat to a bunch of bloggers.

Deval Patrick is different.  He is the first real progressive running to be a Governor of an important, rich, Blue State state using the organizational model the internet makes possible. This means that if he wins, he will see the world the way that we see it, as a political chessboard with many dimensions and many ways to communicate with the public aside from the traditional press, labor, and standard micro-issue group organized rallies.  And he will govern that way too.  We need to put candidates in office who see the world our way, and that means that they won because of what we were able to do for them.  That's why Ciro Rodriguez is so important; as a Congressman elected by the internet he will get that we are an ideologically coherent group that can bring something to the table.  Ultimately though it's people like Deval Patrick that are the key players here, because they will have the greatest impact on voters' lives and they will show that progressive governance delivers good things to the American people.  And we can't forget that this is what it's all about.

There's more...

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.

There's more...

McCain SLAMS Barack Obama..

McCain released to the public today a letter he sent to Illinois's Junior Senator Barack Obama.  I love Senator Obama but he has been starting to grate on me lately.  I'm beginning to wonder if all the hype was too much for anyone to meet up to.

McCain slams Obama in the letter I reproduce below the fold.  What do you think?

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