Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman's post-election "charm offensive" probably helped him keep his key Senate chairmanship, despite his all-out support for GOP presidential candidate John McCain. But I didn't see much charm in his interview with Katie Couric during her CBS Evening News program Wednesday evening. What I saw -- and heard -- was deviousness, and with a smarmy sheen.
Couric bore in on Lieberman's answer to a cable-show question regarding whether Brack Obama was a Marxist.
Couric: "You said, quote, 'It's a good question to ask.' Are you sorry you said that?"
Lieberman: "Well, that's one of those things I wish I had said more clearly. Obviously Barack Obama is not a Marxist."
Couric: "But you said it's a good question to ask."
Lieberman: "Well, then I answered that and said he's not a Marxist. I said at the time that he's somewhat to the left of me on some issues."
But here's what Lieberman actually said during the cable-show interview:
Lieberman: "Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America."
Notice the choice of phrasing: "I'd hesitate [emphasis added] to say he's a Marxist."
Was Lieberman trying to correct a gross distortion of Obama's economic philosophy -- as he claimed with Couric -- or was he trying to extend the life of one of the ugliest, and most preposterous, campaign smears?
I would hesitate to say it was the former.