Tuesday, November 18, 2008


CNN on today's likely Lieberman reprieve:

Senate Democrats appear willing to let Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, keep his powerful Homeland Security Committee chairmanship, even though he campaigned vigorously for Sen. John McCain's White House bid, two sources told CNN Monday....

Several lawmakers involved in the discussions over Lieberman's fate credited President-elect Barack Obama's desire to keep Lieberman in the Democratic caucus and let bygones be bygones as being a key reason Democratic leaders have agreed to support allowing Lieberman to keep his committee chair....

Is he really the reason for this, or did he just give them an excuse to do what they would have done anyway? In either case, I keep thinking of this Obama moment from primary season -- his response to attacks from another adversary whom he's now (obviously) willing to forgive. The moment was an odd combination of hip-hop swagger and "Forgive them, they know not what they do" charity:

I understand that because that's the textbook Washington game. That's how our politics has been taught to be played. That's the lesson that [Hillary Clinton] learned when the Republicans were doing the same thing to her back in the 1990s. So I understand it and when you are running for the presidency than you've got to expect it and then you've got to kind of [makes a "brush off shoulder" motion]. That's what you got to do. That's what you got to do [brushes off his shoulder again].

He's against attack politics, and his response to Hillary Clinton's attacks was to attack her for being someone who naturally resorts to attack politics ... even as he suggested that it wasn't really her fault because she rose to prominence in an attack-happy D.C. The brushoff was one of Obama's harsher attacks, even as it was a rejection of attacks.

Somewhere in there, I think, is Obama's attitude toward Lieberman -- and Obama's intended approach to Lieberman. He seems to see himself as a guy who can take a punch, and make a point by not going down (and by making sure you notice that he's taking a punch).

As I said on this subject a few days ago, I think he thinks he can fend off, neutralize, and/or withstand any future assaults by Lieberman (or the Clintons, for that matter). He may naively think Joe won't attack him now that he's made a great show of lack of vindictiveness, but I'm hoping he somewhat more realistically believes that Lieberman is just somewhat less likely to attack him, but that's good enough because he can handle the rest.

Oh, and in the subject area on which Joe is most annoying, don't forget the obvious point that Obama is going to be commander in chief, folks -- Lieberman can't go whining to The Man because Obama's going to be The Man.

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