Browsing the archives for the Lieberman tag.

As Tough As He Needs to Be

Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Barack Obama playfully confronts John McCain on the Senate floor, 2006

Barack Obama playfully confronts John McCain on the Senate floor, 2006

David Brooks finally brought himself to write a mostly admiring column about Barack Obama today. But the kind words led to a rather unkind conclusion — that Obama’s vaunted cool might ill-serve him as president:

Of course, it’s also easy to imagine a scenario in which he is not an island of rationality in a sea of tumult, but simply an island. New presidents are often amazed by how much they are disobeyed, by how often passive-aggressiveness frustrates their plans.

It could be that Obama will be an observer, not a leader. Rather than throwing himself passionately into his causes, he will stand back. Congressional leaders, put off by his supposed intellectual superiority, will just go their own way. Lost in his own nuance, he will be passive and ineffectual. Lack of passion will produce lack of courage. The Obama greatness will give way to the Obama anti-climax.

I just don’t see this. I have been arguing with people about Obama’s toughness for a very long time, and what I keep seeing from him is that he is as tough and confrontational as he feels is necessary, and doesn’t go beyond that.

He’s perfectly willing to be confrontational when he feels that confrontation is warranted, though. (Or to paraphrase one of his first famous lines, he’s not against all fights, just dumb fights…)

The photo above is from a confrontation Obama had with McCain in 2006. They were sitting on an ethics committee together and a “poison pen” episode led to tension and acrimony. (Basically, McCain erupted at Obama for no good reason.) The Washington Post reported the denouement:

Obama and McCain part deux

Obama and McCain part deux

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama appeared to make up yesterday after their unusual public poison-pen exchange (McCain accusing Obama of “partisan posturing” and “disingenuousness”; Obama expressing hurt that McCain “questioned my sincerity”) over lobbying reform.

As Obama entered the crowded Senate Rules Committee hearing room, he playfully brandished a fist while putting an arm around the seated McCain. Awwwwww! Many pictures were snapped. “I value his input,” McCain told the panel. Said Obama: “I’m particularly pleased to be sharing this panel with my pen pal John McCain.”

More recently, after Joe Lieberman went on a particularly strident run of campaigning for McCain, including (immediately before this encounter) participating in a McCain campaign conference call eviscerating Obama’s performance at AIPAC, Obama approached him on the Senate floor:

Roll Call reports that during a Senate vote today, Sen. Barack Obama “dragged” Sen. Joe Lieberman “by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber and engaged in what appeared to reporters in the gallery as an intense, three-minute conversation.”

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