The lone Jewish Republican in Congress is taking the Obama administration to task over its latest spat with the Israeli government.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor phoned White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on March 15 — asking him to convey to his bosses the message that it is time to ease pressure on Israel.
“The administration needs to reduce the level of its rhetoric,” Cantor said in an interview with the Forward, “I don’t think that the notion of us telling Israel what is best for its security is a good one.”
Cantor and several other Republican lawmakers have criticized the administration’s tough stance on Israel in light of the dispute over the Jewish state’s approval of another 1,600 homes in contested East Jerusalem. Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, have also said that the Obama administration was wrong in pressuring Israel.
Much of the juiciest material contained in “Game Change”, the new dishy chronicle of the 2008 election by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, has already made it’s way into the media. Elizabeth Edwards was prone to angry outbursts, Sarah Palin was an ignoramus, and Bill Clinton was … well, Bill Clinton, the lovable loudmouthed and inappropriate Bubba. For all the revelations though — perhaps with the exception of the surprisingly dysfunctional Edwards family — there was very little in the portraits that didn’t just confirm what most people already suspected about these characters.
As I was reading — I couldn’t help it! — I came across one more of these moments where the public persona is exactly what you would imagine behind the scenes. This scene did not get much publicity, but is worth transcribing in full. It involves Palin’s breakdown of sorts, in the days leading up to the vice presidential debate, and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew. John McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, had asked Lieberman to visit Palin and buck her up at a moment when her debate prep was going disastrously (For one thing, she kept calling her opponent, “Senator O’Biden” for some inexplicable reason):
The situation was wildly unconventional already: a Democratic senator being imported into a top-secret lockdown to assist a Republican vice-presidential candidate whose mental stability was in question, now Schmidt asked Lieberman to perform another unorthodox intervention.
“You’re both very religious,” Schmidt said. “Go in there and pray with her.”
No one is accusing Sen. Lieberman of Christ-killing. Santa-killing, well, that’s a different story. See Bob Englehart’s recent Hartford Courant cartoon here.
Watch the Jewish senator from Minnesota shut down the Jewish senator from Connecticut:
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and a titan of the religious right, has some ideas on which Jews would make good number twos for John McCain.
Land tells CBSNews.com:
I think that the vice presidential choice that John McCain makes is probably the most important choice he’s going to make in this entire campaign. Because he has no room for error, no margin for doubt. If he picks a pro-choice running mate, it will confirm the unease and the mistrust that some evangelicals — and don’t forget this, social conservative Catholics — feel about McCain.
That, of course, means Joe Lieberman’s out. Land explains:
It seems that Senator Joseph Lieberman’s political metamorphosis into a super-surrogate for the presidential candidacy of John McCain isn’t playing too well in his home state of Connecticut.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that Lieberman’s approval rating among his constituents has dropped to 45%, with 43% expressing disapproval for his performance. That’s down from a 52%-35% ratio in March.
“Sen. Lieberman’s approval rating has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in 14 years of polling, with nearly two-thirds of Democrats giving him low marks, probably because he is campaigning for Sen. John McCain,” explained poll director Douglas Schwartz.
Meanwhile, Daily Kos — whose chieftain, Markos Moulitsas, was recently cheered for an attack on Lieberman by what might have been expected to be a fairly Lieberman-friendly, Moulitsas-unfriendly audience — has commissioned a poll that found that Lieberman’s vanquished electoral foe, Ned Lamont, would today decisively win in a rematch. According to the poll, Lieberman gets creamed among Democrats and independents, but wins the bulk of Republicans.
Hat tip: Politicio’s Ben Smith
Markos Moulitsas, leader of the Daily Kos crew and field marshal of the left-wing “net-roots” movement, recently appeared at a gathering of his least-favorite faction of his own political party. Speaking at the “National Conversation” hosted by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, Moulitsas offered an unkind (and unprintable) word for former DLC chairman Joseph Lieberman. And his remark was cheered — somewhat to his, and a second liberal blogger’s, seeming surprise.
Now, it’s true that DLC chief Al From — who had backed Lieberman’s independent Senate candidacy after he had lost the Democratic nomination — had already rebuked Lieberman for his endorsement of Republican John McCain. But the cheers for Moulitsas — who had once boasted that he had a plan to destroy the DLC — hint at the incredible depth of the divide that has opened between Lieberman and even those elements of the Democratic Party that have been the most sympathetic to him.
The Hill reports:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the Democratic Party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee, is leaving open the possibility of giving a keynote address on behalf of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) at the Republican National Convention in September.
Republicans close to the McCain campaign say Lieberman’s appearance at the convention, possibly before a national primetime audience, could help make the case that the presumptive GOP nominee has a record of crossing the aisle. That could appeal to much-needed independent voters.
McCain has yet to ask Lieberman to speak, either in primetime or elsewhere, at the convention. But if McCain thinks it will help make his case for the White House, as some of his allies suspect, Lieberman would be willing to speak on his behalf.
“If Sen. McCain, who I support so strongly, asked me to do it, if he thinks it will help him, I will,” Lieberman said in a brief interview.
Lieberman said he doubts McCain will ask him to give a keynote address, but acknowledges the subject has yet to come up in the two senators’ discussions.
A Lieberman aide said even though there are no plans for the Independent to give a speech at the convention, it is a “likely possibility” he will address the Republican audience in some form.
Hat tip: Open Left’s Chris Bowers
Update: Lieberman also is taking some swings at Obama, telling an interviewer that the Illinois senator has “some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.”
A week ago, Media Bistro’s TVNewser blog reported that the Clinton campaign may have objected to the possible scheduling of a debate on the first night of Passover (although the blog was tentative on this point, suggested other possible motives and issued an update that the holiday’s first night was only one of the nights under consideration).
Meanwhile, Barack Obama is casting his lot with Purim (which, as the JTA notes, is “a holiday that has rarely if ever been commemorated by any other candidate or Congress member.”)
Yesterday, Obama issued the following statement:
Plenty of folks are wondering where fans of Joseph Lieberman will end up politically now that the Connecticut senator has crossed the aisle to endorse the presidential bid of his Republican Senate colleague John McCain.
It’s a hard question to answer, but exit polls from the Connecticut’s closed Democratic primary shed a little light.
The 32% of Connecticut Democratic primary-goers who said they had a favorable opinion of Lieberman split almost evenly among Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton received 50% of their votes, while Obama got 47%.
Unsurprisingly, among the 74% of Connecticut Republican primary goers who had a favorable view of Lieberman, McCain was the winner, taking 57% of their vote to 33% for Mitt Romney.