early and often

Joe Lieberman Pleases, Confuses

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Out of the big players giving speeches in St. Paul last night, Joe Lieberman was the probably the most anticipated, more so even than President Bush. That’s because, of course, Lieberman is a so-called Independent-Democrat (he referred to himself, incorrectly, as just a “Democrat” last night) who’s intensely, openly, defiantly backing the Republican nominee. His mere presence at the podium was symbolic — “country over party,” as he put it. But the speech itself met with mixed reactions. When it appealed to independents and Democrats watching at home, it worked. When it just kind of confused the partisan crowd in attendance, it didn’t.

• Mark Halperin gives Lieberman a “C” because he “seemed a little out of place in the hearty Republican crowd” and “all in all” delivered “an odd, disjointed speech from a man with perhaps too many parties to make a coherent argument.” [Time]

• John Judis thinks he “gave an extremely effective speech on McCain’s behalf,” shrewdly designed to appeal to independents and Democrats and beginning the “journey” toward the center for the Republicans. [Stump/New Republic]

• Daniel Casse calls the last “five or ten minutes” of the speech a “show stopper.” It’s unclear whether it’ll be “enough to tip the balance … [b]ut it set the focus for the remainder of the campaign as Republicans go after the gettable undecided voters.” [Contentions/Commentary]

• Jake Tapper finds the whole thing “odd.” Lieberman was able to get the Republican crowd to clap not only for Bill Clinton, but for a slew of other things they “hate.” Of course, “it was some of the least sincere applause I’ve heard since my 5th grade piano recital.” [Political Punch/ABC News]

• Jim Geraghty speculates that Lieberman’s praise of Bill Clinton could have been a “backhanded reach out to the Hillary voters.” [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Michael Crowley says Lieberman’s “sad-sack demeanor is just not suited for convention hall applause lines, and you occasionally got the feeling that the audience didn’t really get his jokes.” [Stump/New Republic]

• Chris Cillizza thinks Lieberman “[threw] down the gauntlet to his former colleagues,” the Democrats, and wonders if this speech will be the last straw. [Fix/WP]

• Ezra Klein writes his “speech was fine. Good, even,” speaking “emotionally of his friend John McCain, and passionately (and condescendingly) against that ‘eloquent, talented young man,’ Barack Obama.” But while he’s “comforting” and “trustworthy,” it will be hard for him to change minds. [American Prospect]

• Jonathan Cohn notices that Lieberman’s speech “was all about who McCain is rather than what McCain would actually do in office,” probably “because McCain’s agenda just isn’t very popular.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Joe Klein calls it “the weirdest speech I’ve ever seen at a Republican Convention in the Age of Reagan.” But despite his personal dislike of Lieberman, Klein admits that “his testimony to McCain’s bipartisanship and his anti-gridlock rant may have hit home in a country sick of hyper-partisanship.” [Swampland/Time]

• Chuck Todd and friends say the speech was “flat in the hall,” but suspect “it may have been a surprise for the casual observer to see Al Gore’s running mate endorsing McCain and whacking Obama,” which is what the McCain campaign wanted to get across. [First Read/MSNBC]

Related: RNC Speakers Rally Troops to Best of Their Abilities
Joe Vengeance

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Joe Lieberman Pleases, Confuses