Today, The New York Times writes up the inevitable “What of Joe Lieberman?” piece, teasing the uneasy relationship between some members of the Democratic caucus and the party’s not-so-far-past vice-presidential nominee. You see, he’s now a loud McCain supporter and that makes things, well, awkward.
If you’ve been following this story, there’s not too much new here. Still, kudos to Mark Leibovich for getting Lieberman to admit, quote, that “I usually don’t” get talking points from McCain or the RNC. (Read that as: “I sometimes do.”)
But if you have been following this story, you’ll note that there’s actually a lot missing here.
It would seem worth mentioning, as a relevant piece of backstory, that that Obama, to the displeasure of many online activists, endorsed Lieberman when, battered over his steadfast support of Bush’s Iraq policies, Lieberman faced a strong primary challenge from Ned Lamont. (Some thanks he got!)
But there are two other key facts missing from the article as Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo, who is thinking similar thoughts, points out.
First, after Lieberman lost the Democratic primary and chose to continue against Lamont as an independent, he told voters he’d work to elect a democratic president in 2008. That previous commitment, made just two years ago, just before Connecticut voters last had the chance to decide if Lieberman should be their senator, goes unmentioned.
And second, and most importantly, here’s how Leibovich describes Lieberman’s delicate dance with pulling the plug and becoming a Republican:
He has not ruled out switching parties but has stopped short of saying he has moved so far from the Democratic Party — or, in his view, the other way around — that he is at a point of no return.
“I don’t have any line that I have in my mind,” Mr. Lieberman said in an interview. “If it happened, I’d know it when I saw it.”
You wouldn’t know from today’s Times, but Lieberman told Connecticut voters, again and again, that if he won election as an independent he’d still caucus with the Democrats. (Here’s, uh, the Times reporting just that days after Lieberman’s primary defeat.) That’s what they sent him back to Washington believing. But that’s not what he’s now saying.
Those changes in position aren’t ancillary. They strike at the story’s central questions. And they deserve mention in the piece. Readers should hear Lieberman’s best explanation for why he’s changed his mind and gone back on his word. It’s too bad they’ll have to look elsewhere to find all that.