In public, on the floor of the Senate, Barack Obama uses his physical size and strength against an older man.
Senator Obama had some tough talk for Senator Joe Lieberman on the floor of the Senate over Lieberman's support for John McCain and he delivered his dressing down in a particularly insensitive and offensive (and apparently physical) way, ABC News Jake Tapper reports:
Returning to the Senate after his securing the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama and Lieberman greeted each on the Senate floor in the Well as they were voting on the budget resolution.
They shook hands. But Obama didn't let go, leading Lieberman -- cordially -- by the hand across the room into a corner on the Democratic side, where Democratic sources tell ABC News he delivered some tough words for the junior senator from Connecticut, who had just minutes before hammered Obama's speech before the pro-Israel group AIPAC in a conference call arranged by the McCain campaign.
Watch video of the encounter on the Senate floor HERE.
The two spoke intensely for approximately five minutes, with no one able to hear their conversation. Reporters watched as Obama leaned closely in to Lieberman, whose back was literally up against the wall.
How tall is Barack Obama, how young is he compared to Senator Joe Lieberman? This sounds like the behavior of a "community organizer" on Chicago's tough Southside more than a Senator comfortable with the decorum of the United States Senate. Perhaps not all that surprising, since he has actually spent relatively little time working in the Senate during the first half of his first year.
Is this a man who will know what it means to act Presidential?
There is a time and place for this sort of discussion; there are ways to use intermediaries to deal with potential disagreements. There are ways to show respect and the courtesy that Senators expect of one another.
Perhaps the change he offers us hope for is a throwback. There is a disgraceful history of physical intimidation in CongressFor example, Representative Charles Sumner of Massachusettes was beaten and seriously injured when South Carolina's Congressman Preston Brook's attacked him over the issue of slavery.
Is this his idea of tough diplomacy? Will he deal with the short-statured Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through physical intimidation?
Lieberman had offered some criticism of Barack Obama which apparently provoked the incident:
I would say respectfully that I thought in this speech that there was a disconnect between things Senator Obama said today in particularly with regards to Iran and things that he has said or done earlier either in the campaign and senate. To be specific, I was troubled earlier in the year during the campaign season when Senator Obama referred to, I guess compared Iran and other rogue and terrorists states to the Soviet Union and minimized the threat represented by Iran. I think that is wrong."
Lieberman also criticized Obama for voting against an amendment he offered with Sen.Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, and included other language that Obama said linked the war in Iraq to Iran in a way that troubled him. "Senator Obama opposed it saying it was saber rattling and referring to the possible threat of military force," Lieberman said. "But if you look at the Kyl-Liebermann Amendment as it was passed, it has none of that in it, regarding military action.
WiIl Obama just dismiss this incident as a "distraction"? Will he now claim, in his pattern, that Joe Lieberman is not the man he once knew?