Are you big enough to praise Joe Lieberman?

"That's right. It seems Lieberman played a crucial role in talking several Republicans off the ledge, thereby vindicating President Obama's refusal to be vindictive toward the Connecticut Senator, who had some nasty things to say about Obama and Democrats in general during the presidential campaign. Lieberman has always been a moderate-progressive on economic issues so his vote should not be a surprise--but his active lobbying for the bill has to be considered directly attributable to the grace with which Obama treated him. Those who wonder about the President's efforts to be nice to Republicans--a singularly ungracious lot, cult-like in their devotion to failed economic policies past--should bear this particular example in mind as we go forward."
http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/02/ 14/joe-lieberman-stimulus-hero/

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Bipartisanship No, Working Majority Yes

Republican demanding bipartisanship


The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.


In the grown up world, honorable and reasonable people may initially disagree but eventually compromise upon a collective review of empirical evidence. It was in this spirit, that the nascent Obama administration reached out to Republicans with respect to their proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which finally passed both houses of congress yesterday.

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Lieberman Looks Weak

Things aren't looking good for Joe Lieberman in the Nutmeg state.

By a narrow 48 - 45 percent margin, voters disapprove of the job Sen. Joseph Lieberman is doing and give him a negative 43 - 49 percent favorability. Republicans approve 75 - 20 percent. Democrats disapprove 70 - 21 percent and independent voters split 48 - 46 percent.

By contrast, State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal gets a 79 - 12 percent approval rating and 71 - 13 percent favorability rating. Republicans approve of the Democrat 66 - 25 percent. Democrats approve 85 - 6 percent and independent voters approve 81 - 10 percent.

If Sen. Lieberman faces Blumenthal in 2012, the Democratic challenger has an early 58 - 30 percent lead. Republicans go with Lieberman 67 - 23 percent while Blumenthal leads 83 - 9 percent among Democrats and 55 - 29 percent among independent voters.

This isn't the greatest survey ever. It would be significantly more helpful if in addition to a head-to-head matching Lieberman against Democrat Richard Blumenthal there were also a three-way matchup featuring those two along with a Republican (perhaps Chris Shays), because it's not entirely likely that there wouldn't be a GOP nominee in the race. That said, an incumbent who is polling at 30 percent in a named matchup, and trailing by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, is not in a strong position. I'm skeptical that these numbers will move Lieberman to figure out that he would be better served by actually representing the interests of his constituents -- but they should nevertheless serve as a wake up call to Lieberman that his current course has him on the path to ignominious defeat.

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Lieberman's Support for GOP Greater Than Previously Reported

Paul Kane reports:

When Democrats gathered last week to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pair of senators-elect, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, stepped up to offer symbolically important speeches.

[...]

But no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley's opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith's reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

[...]

Lieberman's support of Smith came the same weekend he wrote an op-ed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press defending Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) for his work as chairman of an investigative subcommittee on Lieberman's homeland security committee. The same day he wrote a check to Smith, Lieberman's ROC PAC gave $5,000 to Rep. Peter King, the Long Island Republican. In radio and TV appearances the final days of the campaign, Lieberman also frequently said that a Democratic majority of 60 votes, a filibuster-proof level, would be a bad thing.

Just as Joe Lieberman's support for the Republican Party greater than had previously been reported, so too is the Democrats' magnanimity greater in retrospect than it was even at the time of the vote too allow Lieberman to keep his chairmanship.

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Would Lieberman Have Been Better As McCain's VP Pick?

Yesterday I attended a conference co-sponsored by Politico that featured panels chock full of advisors and consultants from both campaigns as well as several journalists to sort of deconstruct the election. One of the more interesting topics that came up time and again was whether Joe Lieberman would have been a better choice for McCain's VP -- better meaning more likely to have helped McCain win than Sarah Palin did.

The most interesting thing about the debate over this question was the difference in opinion that existed between the Obama camp and the McCain camp. In general, both sides agreed on what the turning points of the election were and what factors led to Obama's victory. But on this point, the McCain folks were intractable: Sarah Palin was the best choice for them at the time.

Was this simple spin -- the refusal to concede what is in retrospect conventional wisdom, that Palin was a disaster for McCain, or was it a sincere analysis of the strategy at the time? I think a little bit of both.

Here's pretty much how the argument went:

Steve Hildebrand, Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager: If McCain had chosen Lieberman or another Democrat, it would have taken away Barack's "post partisan" thing and would have reinforced McCain's maverick thing.

Adam Mendolsohn, GOP consultant: In mid to late August the race was so close, they needed to pick someone who would not collapse the Republican base.

Hildebrand: In the general election you need to forget about your base, they'll be with you, you need to go after moderates and independents.

Mendolsohn: I don't think it's as easy to say the base would have been there. There was a lot of discussion with folks who understand the base and how the convention works and what a Lieberman pick would mean and they were very concerned. They were saying "this will be a huge disaster." In 1992,a large part of the base stayed home. Sarah Palin was a strong solid logical pick for the base.

Mike DuHaime, McCain Political Director: Our hope with Governor Palin going forward was that there would be a connection to moderate women and independents and there was after the convention. She did appeal to working women as well as the base. Ultimately that did not carry all the way through election day but it was not initially just a base pick.

The McCain side insisted that no one else would have given them the bump they received out of the convention and the fundraising spike, without which they would not have been competitive. This financial advantage that Obama had was particularly problematic for them in the immediate aftermath of the Palin announcement when it became evident that "Obama could do 5 things at once, we could do 1" and they allowed Obama to portray Palin as an extreme right winger.

The McCain team were clearly going out of their way to defend the choice and not throw Palin or McCain under the bus and that's fine. I actually think their reasoning versus a Lieberman pick is sound. Lieberman would have been a disaster for them for different reasons. But what they laughably failed to acknowledge on that stage yesterday was just how devastating the pick itself was to McCain's viability. Once it became evident just how unprepared Palin was for top office, as Mike Allen said during a later panel yesterday, the Palin choice helped make John McCain the risky one, which gets to the heart of why McCain lost on Nov. 4th. As Obama pollster David Binder put it, ultimately:

The risk of the unknown with Obama was less than the risk of the known with McCain.

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