Lamont-Lieberman: One Year Out

Today marks the first anniversary of the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary in which Ned Lamont crashed the gates, defeateing three-term incumbent and establishment favorite Joe Lieberman. Though Lieberman managed to secure another term by running a third party candidacy fueled in no small part by Republican donors and voters (70 percent of GOP voters in the state backed Lieberman over their own party's nominee in the general election), it would be worth looking back towards the 8/8/2006 primary and the general election -- particularly among Democrats -- to see if Connecticut voters have any second thoughts about sending Lieberman back to Washington.

So what we'd like to see at this point is fairly simple. In the next poll from Quinnipiac of the Hartford Courant or whoever else does polling in the state of Connecticut, we'd like to see voters asked whether they still stand by their decision to vote elect Joe Lieberman. This question could follow a statement about Lieberman's strong support for George W. Bush's Iraq escalation or his calls for military action against Iran, but maybe not also. Perhaps a balanced question that pits Lieberman's long service or committee chairmanship or perceived centrism against his overt hawkishness would be more to their liking. Who knows.

Now I do know that I, for one, would be someone who would admit to having different feelings today than a year ago. Mind you, I was no vocal supporter of Senator Lieberman, either in the primary or the general election. That said, I thought that the specter of a primary challenge would force him to come home to the base and moderate some of his hard right positions, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Clearly, I was wrong in this belief.

So will The Courant or Quinnipiac go ahead and do what they should do? If you'd like to do your part to cajole them, send a polite and courteous email to either or (Upate: email address fixed) letting them know exactly what type of question you'd like to see them ask on this subject. Perhaps one email, or one blog post won't sway their opinion. But, then again, if enough voices call out, perhaps they will listen.

There's more...

Lieberman's Republican Support

During the final weeks of the primary campaign, Lieberman was fond of attacking Lamont for his "out of state donors," despite waves of evidence compiled by MyDD and other sources that he was collecting out of state donations hand over fist. He was also often defensive, claiming that he was not George Bush. However, unsurprisingly, like everything else Lieberman says, that turns out to be basically untrue as well. From the Hartford Courant:
In the general election, in which Lieberman ran as an "independent Democrat," his take from Republicans soared 80 percent. He collected more money from Republicans than from Democrats. And of major donors - giving $200 and more - Republicans exceeded Democrats.

Officially, the White House stayed out of Lieberman's 2006 race, and Lieberman, who today caucuses with Senate Democrats, did not actively seek its support. But the signs from the White House were unmistakable.

"A lot of people would call and ask, `What's our position?"' Charles R. Black Jr. said last week. The former Bush adviser, who remains close to the president, said, "And I'd say, `There's no official position, but if I were you, I'd help Joe Lieberman.'"

There were other signals. On primary day, White House political guru Karl Rove called the senator. "He's a personal friend," Rove said later. "I called him. It was a personal call."

That call, leaked to media organizations at the time, "sent a message to Republicans across the country to embrace this guy. When Karl Rove calls, most Republicans ask how high they should jump," veteran GOP strategist Scott Reed said last week.

Throughout the campaign, the White House and Republican Party sent other veiled, and less veiled, messages. Vice President Dick Cheney, for instance, would mention at rallies how the Democratic Party had moved away from Lieberman. Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, campaigned with Lieberman two weeks before the election. Melvin Sembler, a former Bush administration ambassador to Italy and former GOP finance chairman, held a fundraiser at his Florida home.(...)

Other Republican donors included brewery chairman Peter Coors, former New York Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, Wall Street financier Henry Kravis, real estate magnates Trammell and Harlan Crow, and John C. Whitehead, a deputy secretary of state in the Reagan administration.

After Lieberman's victory, exit polls found he received the support of 70 percent of Connecticut Republicans, 34 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents.
70% support from Republicans, eh? With Republicans making up 26% of the electorate in Connecticut, that means Ned Lamont would currently be the junior Senator from Connecticut had Lieberman received less than 35% of Republican support. Overwhelming Republican support was crucial to his campaign, and the constant pro-Lieberman messaging, donations, and signals of Republican support were crucial to making that happen (that, and Alan Schlesinger was a complete joke). Among only Democrats and Independents, Lamont defeated Lieberman by 7%-twice the size of his victory in the primary when only Democrats were voting.

When conducted by players in the DLC-nexus, bipartisanship has always actually meant "joint attacks on the left." There are cases when bipartisanship is not like that, such as when Russ Feingold is able to scrape together a majority coalition. However, it is clear that for Lieberman, Republicans were always his main base of support. Had he not always been so willing to criticize the left, he would never have been so loved in a Republican town like the political industry in Washington, D.C., and by establishment media that was slowly being dominated by the Republican Noise Machine. At the very least, now that he was forced to win an election via overt Republican support, his ability to speak on behalf of Democrats has been annihilated. Everyone knows in the last election that Joe Lieberman was basically the Republican nominee. This is just the latest evidence supporting that claim.

Update: Dan Gerstein back in September:
A top aide to U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman adamantly is denying a thinly sourced report that the White House used big Republican donors to secretly funnel "millions of dollars" to the three-term senator's campaign committee before the Democratic primary last month.

But while Lieberman's campaign spokes-man, Dan Gerstein, insists there is "not a shred of truth" to the story now being widely circulated on the Internet, he also promised readers of the senator's new campaign "blog" that he would "look into whether or not serious Republican contributions have been made to Joe's campaign."
I wonder how Gerstein's investigation went. Probably about as well as the FBI's investigation into the supposed "hack" on Lieberman's website. Yet more lies from Lieberman's camp.

Sharpton-Obama: What does Lieberman mean?

Here's Al Sharpton expressing genuine concerns about Barack Obama's candidaacy.

"Why shouldn't the black community ask questions? Are we now being told, 'You all just shut up?'" Sharpton told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer Monday. "Senator Obama and I agree that the war is wrong, but then I want to know why he went to Connecticut and helped [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman, the biggest supporter of the war."

Sharpton also questioned why Obama supports "tort reform, which hurts police brutality victims."

What set Sharpton off was a published report that he is trying to hurt Obama's campaign because he's jealous. Sharpton says that claim is untrue, charging the story came from the Obama camp to pressure him into an early endorsement.

"I'm not going to be cajoled or intimidated by any candidate not for my support," Sharpton said.

Political pundits say Obama is anxious for Sharpton's support because it could hurt Hillary Clinton and help Obama raise money. "At this stage of the game, it's all about the money and I think you're going to see the candidates with the biggest fund raising making it through the end of the year," Political Consultant Joseph Mercurio said.

Does Sharpton's endorsement matter? CBS 2 polled some New Yorkers and the results were mixed, but the majority appeared to lean toward the side that believes Sharpton's endorsement will make a difference.

It's easy to get into the back-and-forth about Sharpton and Obama, the horse race aspects, and miss the larger picture.  Al Sharpton is expressing very legitimate questions about Barack Obama's candidacy.  Why, in 2006, did he support a candidate like Lieberman who, whatever his personal qualities, represents a dramatic right-wing extremist ideology on America's place in the world?  I can imagine any number of answers, many of which are legitimate.  But it's important to know why Obama chose a 'go along get along' attitude in a key race, and why he displays this tendency in his political instincts (Tammy Duckworth was another questionable anti-progressive choice).

Obama's campaign is impressive, and his personal charisma is remarkable.  He's certainly progressive in his policy sympathies, and he's definitely brilliant.  The question is whether he is able to follow through on a progressive politics that actually changes the rules of the game.  That's the question that Sharpton is asking - why, if you are progressive and are running on your opposition to the war, did you support the biggest warmonger in 2006?  That question, or some variant, deserves an answer, and to more than just Al Sharpton.

There's more...

LIEberman threatens to bolt to GOP

This from the Washington Post...

"Democrats must also worry about a wild card in the debate: Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat elected as an Independent, a strong supporter of the war who has hinted that he might become a Republican if Democrats go too far in trying to reign in Bush."

I guess this isnt a surprise, we've known that Lieberman was a snake and a war lover, but geez. I know this: if Lieberman goes to the GOP, this will be his last term as Senator.

There's more...

The Senate's Iraq Problem: Lieberman

Back on Sunday, I noted the discordance among Senate Democratswhen it has come to finding a single plan the caucus can get behind to stop the Iraq war. Listing all of the Senators who has made different proposals to end the war, I complained about the following:
We need a Democratic Party that is willing to work together to end the war, instead of a Democratic Party whose most visible leaders are more willing to one-up each other in an ongoing attempt to burnish their anti-war credentials to the primary electorate. Unfortunately, right now we have the latter, instead of the former.(...)

At some point, if we are ever going to get anywhere on ending the war in the Senate, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry and Obama--all of whom have introduced different types of binding legislation to end the war--should sit down and fashion a combined bill legislative plan of some sort.
Now I realize that there is a problem to Democratic Senators sitting down and fashioning a joint plan to stop the war. That problem has a name, Joe Lieberman (emphasis mine):
So far, Lieberman is using his clout mostly in ways that discomfit his fellow Democrats, while his relationship with Republicans has involved more collaboration than coercion. When Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Bush's State of the Union proposal for a bipartisan terrorism panel was redundant, Lieberman, who supported the idea, privately sent Reid a letter saying he was "upset." Within days, Reid backed down and negotiated the panel's makeup with the White House. And last month, after Lieberman told Reid he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn't feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time. Lieberman has started attending again.
So, discussion of Iraq has now been banned from Senate Democratic caucus meetings. No wonder we have nothing resembling a unified plan to stop the war in the Senate. No wonder a dozen different Democratic Senators are offering up their own legislation to stop the war. Because of Joe Lieberman, Senate Democrats are not even discussing what the nation considers to be by far the most pressing issue facing American today: Iraq.

That is just great. We can't even talk about the biggest issue of the day because Lieberman doesn't want us to. This is truly an unmitigated blessing:
KING: Are you supporting Lamont?

CLINTON: I am but, you know, my -- I don't have the same view of this as some people do. My view is Connecticut is an unmitigated blessing for the Democrats because Lieberman has said if he wins he's going to vote with us to organize the Senate.
Fortunately, the appropriations process starts in the House, and so we don't need Lieberman on board in order to discuss the Murtha plan. If the Murtha plan succeeds, and Democrats do manage to all but end the war over the next eighteen months, it will be despite every Democrat who support Lieberman during his campaign to defeat Democratic nominee Ned Lamont.

Update: More unmitigated blessings. Lieberman threatens to swtich parties over Iraq.


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