Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Possible Chance to Solve the "Mentor" Question Once and For All

LAST UPDATED: FEB. 8, 12:00 Pacific: A big chunk of VichyDems' traffic for the last couple weeks has been from Google searches somehow referencing Joe Lieberman (hiss!) being Barack Obama's "mentor." Many bloggers make a big deal out of this, as did I (over a year ago) before learning that all freshmen Senators are given a "mentor" to show them the ropes. But now that aged post is the first result if you Google for "obama lieberman mentor."

I don't know whether Obama chose Lieberman or vice versa (different stories are floating around), and I was seriously unhappy when Obama boosted Lieberman over Ned Lamont when Lieberman lost the Connecticut Democratic primary to Lamont and decided to run against Lamont as an independent when Lieberman's re-nomination was challenged by newcomer Lamont (I think it's vaguely undemocratic when incumbents take sides in primaries; let the party's members decide for themselves!).

But, as Connecticut Bob correctly points out, Obama DID NOT campaign for Lieberman once Lieberman lost the nomination and still decided to run as an Independent against the democratically-elected Democratic candidate, Lamont; to the contrary, Obama stuck with his party (unlike some others, like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana

And, very significantly, Ned Lamont -- who stands against everything Joe Lieberman stands for -- HAS ENDORSED OBAMA. Think about it: Lamont beat Lieberman for the Democratic nomination. Lieberman ran as an independent and beat Lamont, but Lamont is the closest thing Connecticut has to a second Democratic Senator right now. Lamont would not endorse a Lieberman clone -- so if Lamont can let the "mentor" thing go, shouldn't we do the same?

The bottom line -- which Lamont understands -- is that while Obama's not perfect, Lieberman has a lot more in common ideologically with Hillary than he does with Obama, and that the connections between Lieberman and Clinton run deep. Lieberman and Hillary were in lockstep on the Iraq war resolution, the resolution declaring Iran a sponsor of terrorism (lay the groundwork for yet another war), the surge, and the bankruptcy bill; Obama was on the correct side -- the opposite side of Lieberman and Clinton -- on all those issues. So I think the "mentor" bit is a red herring.

But we may have stumbled on a wonderful opportunity to learn with a fair degree of certainty where Lieberman's loyalties lay, because he apparently is being denied his "superdelegate" status for endorsing John McCain. Not only is that delightful news -- the thought of Senator Palatine playing any role at all in nominating the candidate galls me -- but it may give us a window into the inside working of the Democratic machine.

Here's why: all the major news outlets have been calculating each candidate's delegate count, including both elected or "pledged" delegates AND THE SUPERDELEGATES LEANING TOWARD THAT CANDIDATE. How do they know which way the supers are leaning? By confidentially interviewing them.

Time/CNN has projected Connecticut's pledged delegates to go 26/22 in favor of Obama, with 99% of the vote counted. That's firm. Time/CNN don't say how many supers are in each candidate's camp on a state by state basis -- but they DO say how many supers each candidate has in total: Hillary 193, Obama 106 . Of the Connecticut delegates, according to CapitolWatch, five of Connecticut's 12 (now 11) supers are uncommitted (plus 5 for Obama, 1 for Clinton). Lieberman may also have been uncommitted, but we don't know, and Time/CNN may have had different info than CapitolWatch anyway.

So here's what I'm gonna be looking for: a one-digit change in one of those national numbers shortly after Lieberman's disqualification hits the mainstream media. That could tell us which candidate he backed. If it's Obama, I'll take my lumps and admit that Lieberman was paying back Obama for helping him win re-election and that their relationship was relatively close. If it's Hillary, as I suspect, then the "Obama's mentor in the Senate" anvil should be removed from Obama's neck immediately.


CT Bob said...

For the record, while Obama endorsed Joe Lieberman PRIOR to the 2006 Senate Primary, he didn't continue active support for Joe after Lamont won it. In fact, he was scheduled to make a campaign appearance for Ned at one point, but it got canceled.

I suspect the reason he canceled may be that Lieberman asked him to stay out of the race, but at least Obama didn't go against his party by supporting Lieberman in his third-party campaign. I wouldn't be able to vote for him if he had.

Anonymous said...

CT Bob: I've double-checked, and you're absolutely right: although Obama supported Lieberman in the primary against Lamont (which didn't make me happy; one of my recurrent themes on this site is that incumbents from other states need to stay out of primary races and let the people really decide who they support), Obama stuck with the party when Lieberman abandoned it. I'll fix the post, and I appreciate the correction!