Opinion: Joe Lieberman offers kudos to Barack Obama (a day after singing a different tune)


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Among the avalanche of congratulatory statements crafted by friends and foes of Barack Obama in the wake of his White House win, many Democrats will cast an especially cold eye on this one.

It came via e-mail today from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent-turned-John McCain cheerleader:

I sincerely congratulate President-elect Obama for his historic and impressive victory. America remains a nation of extraordinary opportunity and the American people are a people of extraordinary fairness. Now that the election is over, it is time to put partisan considerations aside and come together as a nation to solve the difficult challenges we face and make our blessed land stronger and safer. I pledge to work with President-elect Obama and his incoming administration in their efforts to reinvigorate our economy and keep our nation secure and free.


Lieberman, CNN reported, will be meeting soon with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, and all eyes in Washington will be on whether they’re able to set aside ‘partisan considerations.’

Or, more precisely, partisan differences that during the last few months grew more intense between Lieberman and the party that once nominated him as its vice presidential candidate.

The big questions surrounding Lieberman: Will he continue to caucus with Senate Democrats and, even if he does, will he retain his chairmanship of the chamber’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee?

Lots of Democrats, including some of his colleagues, want him stripped of that leadership position -- at the least.

Some liberal activists would like him permanently expelled from any and all party councils. And Lieberman, his statement today notwithstanding, gave those folks more ammunition for their case in a radio interview roughly 24 hours earlier.

On election day, conservative talk show host Scott Hennen asked the senator if he believed journalists had properly vetted Obama....

...The North Dakota-based Hennen opined that ‘it seems to me that they’ve been abysmal.’

Lieberman not only agreed, he added:

Look: Not only are the times as difficult as they are, put on top of that we’ve got a guy running who ... is smart and well-spoken, Barack Obama, but, you know, four years ago he was an Illinois state senator.... I can tell you, having worked with him in the Senate or served with him ... he just ... hasn’t done very much. And, you know, therefore the associations and the questions about his background are even more important than the case with John McCain. But honestly, I’m not normally a media skeptic, but the last few years -- including my own reelection race in 2006 -- made me so. If McCain went to a house of worship where the clergyman was saying the kinds of anti-American, racist things that Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright was saying, trust me: They would have been all over John -- not to mention [Bill] Ayers and all the rest. So yeah, I think in the end you have to hope the American people have some common sense and do what’s in the national interest, and that is come on out and vote for John McCain. Your future depends on it.


Now, we’ll see to what degree Lieberman’s future is altered by voters disregarding his exhortations.

-- Don Frederick

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