POLITICS

Evasive Lieberman Discusses Regrets On "Meet The Press"

A semi-repentant Joe Lieberman took to the set of "Meet the Press" on Sunday, tasked with explaining his conduct on the campaign trail, his attacks on Barack Obama, and his future in the Democratic Party.

Answers weren't exactly provided.

During the interview with Tom Brokaw, Lieberman downplayed some of the criticisms he lobbed during the heat of the election. But the Senator wouldn't actually explain which statements he regretted.

Asked to explain whether he truly thought Sarah Palin was more qualified than the now President-elect, Lieberman evaded the question.

Pressed on whether he thought he deserved to be punished by members of his own party, Lieberman insisted that now was not the time for retrospective political analysis.

"I do regret, as I said to the caucus and afterward publicly, there are some things I said during the heat of the campaign that I should have said more clearly and some things I shouldn't have said at all," declared the Connecticut Independent. "They stressed disapproval for some of the things I said. I accept that. That was the spirit of reconciliation. Now we move on together to get the nation's business done... We don't have the luxury of looking back. He is the winner, he is the President-elect."

It was act two in the rehabilitation of Joe Lieberman. The Senator spent the past year practicing a type of politicking that confounded and angered the Democratic party's leading figures, who had been promised by Lieberman that he would not let his McCain advocacy lead to sharp anti-Obama barbs.

The 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee was reminded that he had pledged not to go to the Republican convention and "spend his time attacking Barack Obama" -- only to question Obama's experience on the St. Paul stage.

"Well, I was saying he was less qualified than John McCain. I think I praised him right there," he said of that speech, which included the phrase, "Eloquence is no substitute for a record. Not in these tough times for America."

Brokaw wasn't done picking apart Lieberman's convention appearance. Later he played a video of the Connecticut senator saying Sarah Palin was a "leader" who could be counted on "to shake up Washington."

"Did you honestly believe that she was more qualified than you?" asked the "Meet the Press" host.

"So sweet of you to run that clip and ask me that question this morning," replied Lieberman. "Look, I got into this in December of 2007, to support my friend John McCain... I thought he was better prepared than any of the candidates at that time... I'm going to leave the political commentary and analysis looking backwards to others."

It wasn't Lieberman's only evasive move on Sunday. Repeatedly in the broadcast he claimed to have regrets about the conduct of the campaign, but he noticeably clammed up when asked if he wanted to apologize for anything. When pressed for specifics, he provided none.

"I don't want to go into the details," he replied, before reaffirming his comfort in having supported McCain.

As it stands now, Lieberman seems likely to have weathered this particular storm. This past week, Senate Democrats voted to let him keep his post as chair of the Homeland Security Committee. Much of the credit, Lieberman said, goes to Obama himself, who let it be known that he wanted the Connecticut Independent to continue caucusing with the party.

But there was one hint dropped on "Meet the Press" that suggests not everything between Lieberman and the Democratic Party is pure kumbaya. Asked if he had talked with the President-elect during this process, Lieberman said he wasn't granted the audience.

"I called Senator Obama, President-elect Obama after the campaign," he said. "He's busy. I heard back from Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel, I'm sure we will talk, and in some sense he talked to me through Harry Reid and his spokespeople."