Friday, June 6, 2008

Lieberman and Obama, coming full circle.

This wouldn't be so sweet if it didn't feel like it was coming around full circle. Let me explain and give this a bit of personal background. As soon as I first heard about Barack Obama back in 2003, I liked him. When I heard his positions, I liked him more. When I heard him speak, I started to get really excited, and my expectations kept rising. Before the 2004 convention, I was able to tell my friends and family to watch out for the keynote speaker, but I had no idea just how good he was going to be. I debated buying a T-Shirt for his senate run, but ended up making my own with only his picture because I thought it looked cooler (It may have looked cooler, but for historical value, I'm kicking myself for not buying one). When he was elected to the senate I was as excited about him as I'd ever been about an individual politician. (Until Donna Edwards this year!)

I had big hopes. Someone with Russ Feingold's politics but with Bill Clinton's command over a crowd. To say I had set the bar high was an pretty big understatement, and it was the Lieberman-Lamont race that brought me back to earth. As with most in the netroots, I followed the race very closely, and was passionate about Ned Lamont's campaign to unseat Joe Lieberman. When Obama spoke at Lieberman's fundraiser, and subsequently didn't use his starpower on Lamont's behalf in the general, I was stunned. In addition to the war, I figured that a Lamont endorsement or neutrality would be the ultimate repudiation of "old politics" and the everything else he had come to represent. It was one of those moments where I understood why he did it, I was just disappointed. I couldn't help but see him differently, there he was lining up behind Joe like the rest of the dems. I still liked him and remained a fan, I just didn't have the same expectations as I once had.

Throughout the primary I remained at fan level. I ended up leaning towards John Edwards, but I always enjoyed Obama during the debates and was in awe of the support he was building. When it came down to Clinton and Obama, I was one of those people who supported him because I thought (and still believe) the soul of the party was at stake, and I was thrilled to see him win. I watch a lot of speeches like most of us political junkies, but his speech on Tuesday really felt different, and you could definitely sense the importance of the moment through your television.

Returning to the Senate after his securing the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama and Lieberman greeted each on the Senate floor in the Well as they were voting on the budget resolution.

They shook hands. But Obama didn’t let go, leading Lieberman - cordially - by the hand across the room into a corner on the Democratic side, where Democratic sources tell ABC News he delivered some tough words for the junior senator from Connecticut, who had just minutes before hammered Obama's speech before the pro-Israel group AIPAC in a conference call arranged by the McCain campaign.

Watch video of the encounter on the Senate floor HERE.

The two spoke intensely for approximately five minutes, with no one able to hear their conversation. Reporters watched as Obama leaned closely in to Lieberman, whose back was literally up against the wall.

Neither party is officially talking. But while Lieberman spokesman Marshall Whitman says the conversation was "a cordial and friendly discussion" and Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton says it was "private and friendly," Democratic sources tell ABC News that the conversation was a stern rebuke to Lieberman for his criticism of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as had just happened on the conference call, as well as a discussion about how far Lieberman is willing to go in his advocacy of McCain, and the tone of the campaign.

It may not have been that big of a deal, but it was exactly the type of thing I've wanted to see from Obama all along. Lieberman had crossed a line and Obama had no problems telling him so right then and there, on the floor of the senate. This story is old news by now and has already been enjoyed by many around these parts, but it felt like a sort of glorious parallel to how I felt after his endorsement during the Lamont-Lieberman race. And for all the "stern words" and looking the other way that most senate democrats have done, it was great to see the new leader of our party take a stand and do something that has been long, long overdue. Democratic Leadership... it feels good to say those words one right after the other, huh?


(If the style seems weird, I wrote it to put up on daily kos, which I haven't had the time to do yet)

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