Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Those are the noises I like to hear. Now, back in your box.

Who's saying this? (Answer halfway through)
"Let me just say this: I don't regret having supported John McCain because I sincerely believe in his experience and his extraordinary record of working across party lines to get things done. But I do regret, as I said to the caucus and afterward publicly, there were some things I said in the heat of the campaign that I wish I'd said more clearly. There are other things, frankly, I wish I hadn't said at all. That happens to all of us in the heat of a campaign. But nonetheless, I regret it."

Lieberman said he called Obama after the campaign but didn't hear back from him.

"He's busy," he said. "I heard back from Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel. I'm sure, in time, Sen. Obama and I, who have developed a good friendship and working relationship over the years he's been in the Senate, will talk. In some sense, he talked to me through Harry Reid and his spokespeople, and I appreciate very much the spirit of reconciliation that he evoked.

We don't have the luxury of looking back to the campaign," Lieberman added. "He's the winner. He's the president-elect. We've all got to work together with him to make him successful, and that's what I'm committed to doing."

One of the reasons it was relatively easy to talk me down from my unhappiness over Lieberman keeping his committee chairmanship is that he has no incentive to be anything other than a perfectly good Democrat in the next couple years. In four years he's facing re-election in a state Obama won by 21%, and unless Obama completely fails as a president, being an opponent of the administration will end his career. Assuming that Lieberman accepts this calculation, he'll be a reliable ally unless things totally fall apart.

Of course, Lieberman has made bizarre political decisions in the past. A few token attempts to moderate his hawkishness in early 2006 would've won him the Democratic primary and saved him a big headache, but he didn't do that. But seeing him this humble suggests that he's going to play it the only way that makes any sense whatsoever.

Obama's decision to not punish Lieberman (and as I understand it, it was the conciliatory behavior from Obama that set the course Harry Reid and everyone else followed) is something to judge based on the future, not the past. We'll see how things go.


Anonymous said...

My guess too is that Lieberman is operating under some sort of ultimatum from the Democratic leadership. Something akin to "pull that shit again, and we'll leave you on the street." Lieberman's sympathies are probably still with the Republicans, but since he cares more about saving his own ass, he will probably stay in line.

NolanT said...

I would like to believe that Lieberman is an honest broker in this but he has proven in the past that he isn't. That is my problem.

But I also think Obama knows what he is doing and, at the end of the day, he is the President and Lieberman is the joke so we should be able to tell who gets the last laugh here.

Anonymous said...

Right, Obama is a damned good politician - and certainly not naive - so I'm pretty sure that he has a handle on the whole situation.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I think Jamelle is basically right -- Lieberman isn't an honest broker if you regard honesty as a character trait. But if he's a crooked guy with a gun to his head, that's good enough for me.