Obama backs Lieberman against the wall (literally)
Posted June 4th, 2008 at 4:15 pm
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Joe Lieberman, fully embracing his role as a Republican attack dog, took the lead in a GOP conference call this morning to attack Barack Obamas Middle East policy. On the call, organized by far-right Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Lieberman argued, weakly, that Obama holds the U.S. responsible for Irans strength in the region.
Senator Obama argued today that American foreign policy in recent years has essentially sort of strengthened Iran, Lieberman said, adding, If Israel is in danger today, its not because of American foreign policy, which has been strongly supportive of Israel in every way. Its not because of what weve done in Iraq, its because Iran is a fanatical terrorist expansionist state.
Obama, apparently, didnt care for Liebermans comments, so much so that the Democratic presidential nominee confronted Lieberman directly on the Senate floor this afternoon. Subscription-only Roll Call reported:
[D]uring a Senate vote Wednesday, Obama dragged 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.
While it was unclear what the two were discussing, the body language suggested that Obama was trying to convince Lieberman of something and his stance appeared slightly intimidating.
Using forceful, but not angry, hand gestures, Obama literally backed up Lieberman against the wall, leaned in very close at times, and appeared to be trying to dominate the conversation, as the two talked over each other in a few instances.
In State Legislature Altercation, Obama Had To Be Physically Restrained.
May 21, 2008 10:16 AM
By Jim Geraghty
Finally, a new and intriguing anecdote from David Mendells biography of the Illinois senator, Obama: From Promise To Power, on page 125-126:
Obama, to be sure, had allies in the black caucus, but he had his share of critics as well. His chief antagonists were Rickey Hendon, who represented a district on the citys West Side, and Donne Trotter, ho would run against Obama for Congress.
Hendon and other African-American lawmakers from the West Side often found themselves at odds with their South Side brethren, but the rift between Hendon and Obama was particularly acute. Hendon and Trotter would just give Barack hell, said Senator Kimberly Lightford, an Obama ally in the black caucus. Hendon, nicknamed Hollywood, because he once aspired to produce films, was a flamboyant personality in Springfield, known for his smart-aleck humor and occasionally inappropriate public manner. In one legislative session, the two nemses nearly came to physical blows when Obama, apparently inadvertently, voted against a bill that included funding for a project that assisted Hendons district.
Years later, details of the incident remain in the eye of the beholder. Obama supporters say that Obama had stepped away from his seat and asked someone else to vote for him, not an uncommon practice considering the thousands of votes each session. His proxy, however, accidentally voted against his wishes. When Obama asked that the record reflect that he voted the wrong way, Hendon publicly accused Obama of duplicity. Hendon has never been shy about holding back his feelings, and he had a special way of penetrating Obamas usually smooth exterior. Soon, the two men were shouting at each other on the senate floor. They took their disagreement into a nearby room, and a witness said that Obama had to be physically restrained. Neither man cares to discuss the incident today, but Hendon remains unconvinced of Obamas explanation that his vote was accidental. Individuals close to the situation say Hendon still believes Obama voted against his project to pacify North Side fiscal conservatives who were leery of some West Side projects. For his part, the rarely reticent Hendon wont discuss the altercation, except to confirm that it occurred. I have been advised to leave Barack alone and that is what I am going to do, Hendon said. I am going to let things stay in the past. It happened. Thats all I can say. It happened.