Friday, February 01, 2008


When Barack Obama first went to the Senate, Joe Lieberman was his mentor. And now Lieberman is campaigning for the guy who'll be Obama's opponent if Obama wins the Democratic nomination. So I guess it's understandable that Azi Paybarah of The New York Observer would ask Lieberman about the big Obama rumor that won't go away.

Lieberman, of course, should have done the honorable thing and responded with an unambiguous denial of the rumor -- problem is, he didn't (emphasis mine):

Joe Lieberman, who made history as the first Jewish candidate on a major presidential ticket in 2000, said he once was confronted the storyline about Barack Obama being Muslim and not a strong supporter of Israel.

"I've heard about it," Lieberman told me just now in a telephone interview.

"The one time that I confronted it, I was campaigning in Florida for Senator McCain. I spoke to a large group and a man stood up and asked me about it, or he referenced it. And I said, of course, that I know Senator Obama pretty well. Obviously one's religion is a matter of choice. Everything I knew said he was Christian. So, I don't know how widespread it is but that's the one time I confronted it. And of course the most important thing is that Senator Obama said it's just not true."

Lieberman added, "I don't have to say it again but I will. We're not in a war against Muslims, we're in a war against extremists. A lot of them happen to be Muslim." ...

Er, Joe, the correct answer is "No, he's not -- I know him well, and he's a Christian." Why not just say that? Why insinuate that there's the slightest doubt? Oh, and after leaving that hint of uncertainty in the air, why tag on the "A lot of [extremists] happen to be Muslim" bit?

Never mind. We know your character, Joe, so we know why.

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