I’m not a “blogger”. This site is based on blog software because back when Blogger.com was new it was a fast way for me to get content up with easy CSS forms. I liked the look. Who knew that there would become such a thing as the “blogosphere”. it sounds like a wooden biosphere…
But what bloggers have going for them is self-editing. Not editing by committee like the New York Times or Hartford Courant. They typically don’t have political bagmen asking them to suppress an opinion piece or news item in return for some inside info (NYT? Anybody home?). Since I have no reason to suppress my views here, and am unencumbered by a deadline or budget, I’ll venture into the land of political opinion.
As a resident of Connecticut and a Registered Democrat, I have been paying a lot of attention to the Lamont/Lieberman battle. An Cinderella story where a millionaire businessman takes on a millionaire politician. Ah, the classics…
First a little about Joe: Joe Lieberman has become exceptionally savvy as a bait-and-switch artist in his 18 years in the Senate. When he was freshly elected to the Senate I was freeshly hired at an environmental consulting firm about a mile from Joe’s house. I got to know some of the merchants and residents in the Yale Bowl area. You would have that neighborhood pegged as “Joe Country”, right? Wrong. They knew him too well. They (these were democrats, BTW) had seen his self-serving brand of politics up close through his time in the State Legislature and as Attorney General. He was still playing out of the Bailey Songbook. Pump the Italians and Poles in the union halls for all they were worth, and pump their corporate masters (union busters like the pharmaceutical and chemical industry) with the other hand. He made a living telling each side that he was good for them because he had pull with the other side. He took that same gameplan all the way to the VP bid in 2000 and his “3-way tie for third place” in the 2004 presidential race. Whether it was environmentalists on one side and military contractors (and freeing them of environmental regulation) on the other, or pro-lifers and anti-choice legislation, Joe has had it both ways for a long time.
Joe talks like he owns a deli, but he plays hardball politics. Nasty hardball politics. He had a DC lobbyist posing as a grassroots campaign worker, setting an ambush for Ned Lamont on the weekend before the election. Where? At Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburgers in Meriden, CT. TED’S! Fer crissakes. That is like setting the ambush in a church. Patrons of Ted’s are likely to agree. Similarly, Joe’s workers wouldn’t answer questions about their petition drive to get Joe on the ballot as an Independent. They stiffed the Hartford Courant, who were dumb enough to endore him in the election. When Joe has workers asking the public for signatures, but won’t comment publicly… well, that is all you need to know about Joe.
Funny though, he largely got away with it until his game was costing thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of maimings, and hundreds of thousands of “enemy losses”. He made a deal with Bush where he would be the face of “bi-partisan support” and Bush would follow through on his unconditional support for Israel. Joe rounded up a LOT of “yes” votes when Congress handed Bush a blank check in the months after 9/11. He carried that water, delivered the votes. He wasn’t going to let a thing like a stolen election get in the way of his game plan.
Now he has been rejected. He lost to Lamont in his home town of New Haven. Found out is more like it: by the majority of voters in his own party. And as a result he is showing that he was only using the Democratic party for cover. That is something that many voters had whiffed in the air, but were not ready to call him on it. That all changed at 11pm on August 8, 2006. Joe had two choices: back Ned Lamont and let him cruise to the November election, virtually uncontested, helping other candidates in other states; or take his toys and start his own party. He called himself an “Independent Democrat” at his concession speech/attack ad. What that apparently means is that he is ready to make the step into the void: Republicans For Lieberman. In November he has to split both party’s votes, and come away with a majority. Again, playing to both sides and hoping to declare “victory”. He will be telling Dems that he is a conduit to the GOP and an agent for change, and GOP voters that they can count on him to stand by the President. The saddest part is that Joe may actually believe that Republicans support him and are not using him. They use him as a pinata, or as a punchline. But Joe seems to think that they respect him. That is simply pathetic.
Democrats should ask for something up-front: Evidence of the positive change that Joe has brought about so far. Where is the upside to his embrace of: the Bush Doctorine? The Unitary Executive? Non-existent oversight of White House Intelligence Ops? I think that the list will be short. About as short as a list of any resistance or intervention in Bush’s failed Middle East policy. They might want to ask him for a list of ideologies that have been destroyed by military force. They might want to ask: “Joe, if you are so smart and connected then why weren’t you pushing for US/UN supplied humanitarian aid for Lebanon instead of letting the Hizbullah provide it?” The vote will come down to the big lesson that Joe has learned from BushCo: Fear. If Joe can get enough people to fear a change, then he wins.
It is the responsibility of the Lamont campaign to call Joe on his record, and remind people that voting out of fear is a poor alternative to voting out of hope.