I wish I had more time to write about this today, and may tonight, but in the meantime I wanted to link up quickly to a story about how Senators Lieberman and Obama squared off in the US Senate today over Obama’s Iran position. Obama was so upset with things Lieberman had said on a pro-McCain conference call that he had Lieberman backed up against the wall. Jake Tapper reports (via Memeo):
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the self-described “Independent Democrat” who caucuses with the Democratic party in the Senate even though he has endorsed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, got some tough talk from Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, yesterday about his advocacy for the presumptive Republican presidential candidate and the general tone of the campaign, Democratic sources tell ABC News.
Returning to the Senate after his securing the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama and Lieberman greeted each on the Senate floor in the Well as they were voting on the budget resolution.
They shook hands. But Obama didn’t let go, leading Lieberman – cordially – by the hand across the room into a corner on the Democratic side, where Democratic sources tell ABC News he delivered some tough words for the junior senator from Connecticut, who had just minutes before hammered Obama’s speech before the pro-Israel group AIPAC in a conference call arranged by the McCain campaign.
The two spoke intensely for approximately five minutes, with no one able to hear their conversation. Reporters watched as Obama leaned closely in to Lieberman, whose back was literally up against the wall.
Neither party is officially talking. But while Lieberman spokesman Marshall Whitman says the conversation was “a cordial and friendly discussion” and Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton says it was “private and friendly,” Democratic sources tell ABC News that the conversation was a stern rebuke to Lieberman for his criticism of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on the conference call, as well as a discussion about how far Lieberman is willing to go in his advocacy of McCain, and the tone of the campaign.
Roll Call has more (via HuffPo):
Furthermore, during a Senate vote Wednesday, Obama dragged Lieberman by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber and engaged in what appeared to reporters in the gallery as an intense, three-minute conversation.
While it was unclear what the two were discussing, the body language suggested that Obama was trying to convince Lieberman of something and his stance appeared slightly intimidating.
Using forceful, but not angry, hand gestures, Obama literally backed up Lieberman against the wall, leaned in very close at times, and appeared to be trying to dominate the conversation, as the two talked over each other in a few instances.
Still, Obama and Lieberman seemed to be trying to keep the back-and-forth congenial as they both patted each other on the back during and after the exchange.
Afterwards, Obama smiled and pointed up at reporters peering over the edge of the press gallery for a better glimpse of their interaction.
Obama loyalists were quick to express their frustration with Lieberman’s decision and warned that if he continues to take a lead role in attacking Obama it could complicate his professional relationship with the Caucus.
Here’s video of their handshake and the two of them walking away together to talk.
This is nothing more than a bullcrap intimidation tactic by Barack Obama. Now that he’s the nominee, he expects all Democrats to fall behind him like good little sheep in advance of the November election in the spirit of “party unity” and because Lieberman won’t (he has endorsed McCain) and remains critical of Obama’s Iraq and Iran policy(ies), Obama, a junior Senator from Illinois with just a few years of experience under his belt took Lieberman, a Senator with years of Congressional seniority over Obama, off to the side and tried to school him like a bad pupil who had gotten out of line.
If Obama thinks he can push Lieberman into backtracking from his Middle East positions just because he’s the nominee now and expects everyone on his side to just fall in line behind him, he’s got another thing coming. Lieberman has already proved he’s not going to let the party’s far left supporters intimidate him from shying away from his strong foreign policy positions on Israel, Iraq, and Iran, and nothing illustrated that more when he decided to run as an Independent – and won – over moonbat hero Ned Lamont in 2006. He’s not going to let far left Senators intimidate him either, Dem nominee or not.
Another interesting thing about this is how the ABC article quoted anonymous as well as on-the-record Senate sources who piled on behind Obama’s other criticism of Lieberman: that he is using the Senate as a bully pulpit to show support for McCain and attack Obama. Newsflash, dude: Lieberman’s always had these positions on the Middle East, since even before you were getting chummy with your anti-Israel, anti-US spiritual mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the early 90s, and even before you were viewed as an ally in the pro-Palestinian community in the late 90s.
Oh, and bank on this: It goes without saying that nearly every Democrat in the Senate is going to use it as a bully pulpit to express support for policies Barack Obama favors, even if they don’t expressly use his name while doing it. Yet they have the nerve to express concern about Joe Lieberman’s criticism of Obama’s Middle East agenda because they think it’s too “pro-McCain,” even though Lieberman as an Orthodox Jew has been staunchly pro-Israel well before Obama was ever a gleam in his mother’s eye, and even though Lieberman would still be critical of Obama’s MidEast agenda whether or not John McCain was running for president?
In related news, last night I touched on Obama’s evolving position on Iran as part of his general campaign strategy to sound tough – something he didn’t do while pandering to his far left constituency during the primaries. ABC News has a lengthy article on that today, and included in it are quotes from Obama’s spinmeisters about how his speech at AIPAC really didn’t differ any from the position he’s taken on Iran for over a year now.
(PS: I guess this didn’t end up being such a quick post after all )