It’s Hard to See What Joe Wants, Except That Joe Wants It

Joe ran
admirably as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate with Al Gore. Al was able to get over being not-beaten and it seems Lieberman just can’t figure out how to deal with an honest old regular loss when it comes.

I don’t live in (or vote from) Connecticut, so I admit it’s an
outsider’s view, but it’s hard to see just what it is that Joe
Lieberman wants.
Apparently, what he wants more than anything else at the moment, is to
be the Senator from Connecticut. Easy to understand that. Joe’s been a
member of the club for eighteen years now and he knows where to find
the coat-hook with his name on it.
It looks as if Joe will be a spoiler, now that his constituents have
turned their back on him in the primary. Which is sad to watch. Joe ran
admirably as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate with Al Gore.
Al was able to get over being not-beaten and it seems Lieberman just can’t figure out how to deal with an honest old regular loss when it comes.
Politicians pay homage to the power of the ballot. A good many of
them have had to choke down that homage when it ran against them.
Standing up, shaking hands and saying “I want your vote” is a time-honored spectacle in American politics.
Standing up and saying “I heard you and I think you’re wrong and I’m going to run as an independent in November” is
a dishonor to all that Joe ran on. It’s akin to telling your home crowd
they don’t know what they’re doing and have no idea of the tragic
mistake they just made.  It’s a put-down and an insult to the same
folks that sent you to the Senate three times.
Who knows? Maybe the home-folks didn’t like Joe hedging his 2000
vice-presidential run by keeping his Senate seat. It’s possible Joe’s
just run out. Out of gas, out of time and out of good sense. The
honorable thing would have been to shake Ned Lamont’s hand, give him a
set of keys to the office and campaign for him.
If Joe loses as an independent candidate, which seems likely, he’ll
have been made a fool, although my old daddy always said no one could make
you a fool but yourself. If he wins, he says he’ll caucus with
Democrats in the Senate, but his coat-hook may not be as reliable as it
once was for holding up his reputation in that rarified atmosphere. If
he and Lamont both lose to their Republican opponent, almost a sure-thing, Joe will retire dishonored.
In 2004, Connecticut went Democrat, 54% to 44% and it voted pretty
much the same way and in the same proportion for the past three or four
elections. But, anyway you slice it, that 54% is a loser when it’s
split between two Democrats. Even if the Republicans are particularly
unpopular this November, it’ll be a squeak. It certainly won’t be a
pretty sight to watch two ‘Democrats’ savage one another, but it should
make great Republican campaign ads nationwide.
What resonates most significantly for the Lieberman crowd is Joe’s
seniority and you can bet he’ll run that play for yardage every time
there’s a scrimmage. But some of Joe’s positions have been very hard to
swallow for Connecticut Democrats. It’s not even so much the Iraq
war—there are a lot of honest folks who don’t quite know how the hell
to get out of there.
But Joe has been uncritical in times when honest criticism was in
very short supply and most needed. So have many of his fellow-Democrats
and it remains to be seen what price they will pay for what many
Americans see as unconscionable subservience. Connecticut is New York’s
bedroom. It will be interesting to see how Hillary’s middle-roading
will play out on the campaign trail, but at least she’s not facing a
November test.
On the Republican side, it’s probably either curtain-time or
big-money time for Alan Schlesinger, the current Senatorial candidate.
A throw-away nominee in what was expected to be solid Lieberman
country, Schlessinger has suddenly become the GOP focus for a Senate
seat that might actually be winnable. Hard to move him aside a mere two
and a half months before elections, but stranger things have happened.
But for Joe, it’s Johnny Cash’s sad walk in a cold rain.  The
low-road rhetoric has already begun, with Lieberman commenting after
the British bomb scare, that Lamont’s position on getting out of Iraq “will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.”
With a start like that, it’s hard to see Joe Lieberman coming out of
this election, win or lose, with anything even close to what might be
called a victory or a reputation.
Some other thoughts on the Lieberman issue;

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