Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I loathe Joe Lieberman and, yeah, I'd enjoy seeing him stripped of his Homeland Security committee chairmanship or made unwelcome in the Democratic caucus -- but I don't see punishment as necessary; I can see that mercy on Barack Obama's part might be useful to the president-elect in the future. So I'm not upset to learn that Obama wants Lieberman to stay in the Democratic caucus.

I don't think Obama is being (in Kos's phrase) a "battered spouse" Democrat. Obama got where he is in part by welcoming those who disagree with him into the tent while not making significant adjustments in core positions to entice those he's welcoming -- he's still unwaveringly pro-withdrawal, pro-choice, and so on. His ability to win over (or at least partly placate) potential adversaries unnerves Republicans, who spent much of the year howling that he's a doctrinaire liberal Pied Piper (don't go into that house, Doug Kmiec!). When Obama does outreach, it conveys strength, not weakness.

Now Lieberman can't run to his pals on Fox News and complain that the liberal fascists are driving him from his party, at least not convincingly. At this moment, Obama looks magnanimous and Lieberman looks like a beggar.


(Oh, and on the subject of "battered spouses," it's possible that Bill Clinton is acting like one as he reportedly makes calls to try to keep Lieberman in the caucus -- but it's also possible that he still just doesn't like Barack Obama and thinks he's helping out a guy who correctly opposed him. But I think Obama believes he can take both of them on if necessary.)


Meanwhile, on Fox News last night, Sarah Palin was the opposite of magnanimous. She whined to Greta Van Susteren about everyone she believed had done her wrong -- the RNC, "narrow-minded" feminists who just weren't "bold and brave" enough to support her, "the media" working hand in glove with "some blogger probably sitting there in their parents' basement, wearing their pajamas, blogging some kind of gossip" ... the list goes on. Admissions of error on her own part? Zero. (Story here; transcript here.)

Imagine if Barack Obama had lost the election. Now, imagine that, less than a week after the votes were counted, he invited a friendly TV reporter to Chicago so that he could whinge nonstop about the evil Clintons and white racist voters and the Internet rumormongers -- while taking absolutely none of the responsibility for the campaign's failure himself. It wouldn't have happened. It isn't happening with John McCain right now. But Palin is different. Not once did she stop and say to Van Susteren, "I made some mistakes."

And it's clear that it's Palin who's controlling the tone and structure of her current series of interviews. Part of the Van Susteren interview showed her making lunch for her family. As I was typing this, Matt Lauer was on the Today show interviewing Palin ... while she was making lunch for her family. Same with this week's Anchorage Daily News interview. And not only are many of the answers in all the interviews largely the same -- so are many of the questions. This exchange, for instance, shows up in all three interviews. I think Team Palin is recommending certain questions to interviewers, who are dutifully asking them.

Well, fine -- let her flood the zone with her petulance and egomania and gracelessness, while the rest of the country moves forward from the last eight years.

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