Monday, January 30, 2006

Lieberman Tacking Left

In 1994, a host of no-name Republican candidates were in the running to challenge one-term Senator Joe Lieberman. One of these, Dr. Joseph Bentivegna of Wethersfield, used to speak on the stump of a disease he called "Lieberman's Syndrome," which was characterized by a weak and bendable backbone. To demonstrate, he'd take out a little plastic spine and show "it can be bent any way it is pushed," much to the delight of his Republican audience (Daly).

This may be an odd image of Lieberman, who has, if anything, been known to be too stubborn, and a man who stands by his values and beliefs no matter what. Indeed, that sort of stubborn support for the Iraq War is part of what's landed him in hot water with the liberal wing of his party.

Now, however, with the threat of a well-funded primary challenger on the horizon, Lieberman appears to have shifted course somewhat:

But last week, Lieberman took somewhat sudden, and very conspicuous steps to the left, giving pause to even his most vocal liberal critics.

On Tuesday, Lieberman, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, opened a hearing on Hurricane Katrina by vilifying the Bush White House for allegedly muzzling officials who could tell Congress who knew what about the looming disaster and when.

Then on Thursday, Lieberman announced his opposition to Bush’s nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, noting that it would be the first of five Supreme Court nominations — three of them by Republican presidents — that he would vote against.

And this week, Lieberman, who has already co-sponsored a lobbying and ethics reform proposal co-authored by McCain and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, plans to get behind a second proposal endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (Straw)

Is this the return of that dreaded syndrome? If so, it may not be working. It's highly debatable whether the senator's most vocal critics have been "given pause" by his recent actions, as the article says. Some aren't buying it, and remain just as steadfast in their distaste for Lieberman and support for Ned Lamont as ever before.

At this point, there's very little Lieberman can do to win over the vast majority of Lamont supporters. A lot of liberals put Lieberman in or close to the same category as they do George W. Bush: he is the enemy, and they will not accept him. Worse, to them, he is a traitor.

This sort of polarized "us or them" thinking has been a fixture of the politics of this decade, largely thanks to the uncompromising policies of the ruling Republican leadership. I tend to think it won't last forever. Good, productive government is built on compromise, not strife. But this is where we are, and where we've been heading since 1964. The days of the "big tent" party may very well be over and done at the national level, at least for now. The widespread, national support for Lamont, an inexperienced candidate who in other years might just have been a blip on the radar, is a significant symptom of this trend.

2006 may be one of those rare years of realignment, in which the political order is turned on its head. If it is, no amount of leftward progress may be able to save Joe Lieberman.


Daly, Matthew. "Approach is Difference in GOP Senate Candidates." Hartford Courant 29 August, 1994.

Straw, Joseph. "Dems cheer Lieberman’s move to left, Bush attacks." New Haven Register 30 January, 2006.


FUNdraising said...

How is Lamont "Well Funded". As far as anyone can tell he hasn't raised any money yet. has a mere $68,215.00 in pledges for an alternate candidate. Assuming that Lamont throws in some of his own cash, say a million, and is able to bring in some of the far left/non union/non party establishment money, (which I would say is another 250k) by my count that still leaves him with $1,31825. PAC money doesn't come into play during a primary because no one wants to be left out when it comes to financing a front runner.

$1,31825 may seem like a lot, but not compared to Lieberman.According to, Lieberman had $3,420,465 cash on hand on Sept. 30. my assumpution would be that last quarter puts him over 4m. All of that can be used in a primary challenge if there is one can be re-raised for a general election after. plus this was all raised before there was a challenge, a challenger only brings in more cash.

Its not easy to raise money even for established candidates. It is even tougher for someone starting up a campaign. Lamont will do ok, I mean rich people tend to be friends with other rich people, but I cannot imagine him being "well funded" compared to Lieberman, unless he is willing to put in a million +. That is a lot of money to throw around especially when you know someone is going to outspend you at least 3 to 1 and probably more than that.

ctblogger said...

I laughed out loud when I read that article from the conseravtive New Haven Register seeing that they didn't even cover Lamont visiting New Haven on Saturday.

Which Democrats are cheering? DLC members?

The damage from the Lieberman/Bush realtionship is already done and Democrats have been bitter over Lieberman for years (look at his lack of supprt in Connecticut during his 2004 campaign).

At this point, I don't think there is much Lieberman can do to sway Democrats who are already upset at him so I don't see this "shift" to the left doing much to help him.

It's all about Iraq and if Lieberman loses the primary, he has no one to blame but himself because he's the one who not only chose to support an unpopular President with an unpopular war, but also had no problem criticizing fellow Democrats (again) who are angry with the way the Bush administration handled the war from the beginning (a.k.a. they lied).

Proud Moderate Dem said...

In my assesment there are three types of dems. 1. those that love lieberman and will support him no matter what. 2.those that hate him no matter what, even if he put on a tye died shirt, went to the town green and sang kumbyeya and 3.those that dont agree with him on the war, appreciate the dem issues he has been strong on, yet are keeping an open mind about another option. it will be the case made to the dems in the 3rd category that will decide this convention/primary. will dems in this 3rd category decide that the war is too much to look past and that lamont presents a viable alternative, or will they continue to state their disagrement over the war but acknowledge liebermans democratic strengths (which i know those in category 2 will debate) are still solid, and that lamont hasnt presented a viable alternative and that taking out Lieberman is not that high on the priority list (congressional races are very imp too) and in the case that Dems could take back the Senate in DC, the chances of sending a R from CT is not worth the risk. only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Lamont would be silly to put in $1m of his own money as it would trigger higher limits for Lieberman, which would make his fundraising advantage that much greater.
The whole "rich guy willing to fund himself can beat Lieberman" theory only works with a Corzine-like candidate. Anything short of $5million from Lamont is useless and assuming he does dump in $5m of his own cash, he would still only (best case scenario) match Lieberman's dollars and still trail almost $1m behind in name recognition $$.
That's an expensive "statement."

DeanFan84 said...

Morning all!

Congrats to GC. CTLocal's site traffic has reached a new high. Looks as if we'll clock in at over 17,000 distinct visits for the month.
I called Lieberman's office today, and was disgusted to hear that he isn't standing in support of an Alito filibuster. If he is such a proponent of women's rights, why isn't he out there fighting on the front lines? If Joe had wanted to give pause to his critics, he might have taken a stand against Alito. But he hasn't. Is he still dreaming of a McCain/Lieberman unity ticket in 2008?

Genghis is correct in saying that there is nothing Joe can do to placate those of us mad at him for hawking the Iraq Experiment. But there is a whole other contingent that is walking away from Joe--those of us upset by his lack of Party loyalty.

As such you mischaracterize things when you suugest the problem with Joe is a big tent/little tent issue regarding his stance on Iraq. Where many of us are coming from is that Joe has simply been a bad Democrat. Anything but a team player.

Joe's ego has him going his own way on everything! And certainly, he seems more concerned about his popularity amongst Republicans, than amongst those who won him his Senate seat in the first place. Compounding this is the fact that Joe has done next to nothing for CT Dems.

Can Joe placate this second group? I don't know, but I will theorize that the final straw was probably his announcement that he would abandon the Party and run as an Independent if he lost in a Primary. Who needs Democrats that aren't committed to being Democrats?

DeanFan84 said...


Can I borrow your post to use in our next solicitation?

Really, you ought to show MoveOn a little more respect. In the build-up to the Iraq invasion, MoveOn's membership swelled to several million. I wouldn't be surprised if they alone raised $5-10 million against Lieberman.

Joe in his hubris has set himself up to be the focus of a lot of anger....

Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, moveon should take a hint from their name, and moveon from making Lieberman their number one target when there are bigger, much more important fights we should be fighting out there.

DeanFan84 said...


It's unfortunate that you don't see the need for Party discipline.

Could it be that wimpy moderates are responsible for our current losing streak?

The Republicans enforce extreme discipline, (particulary message discipline), and it hasn't seemed to hurt them.

Do you really have no problem with a Blue State senator that isn't even committed to being a Dem?!!

Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, one of the reasons i am not an R is bc the dems tolerate other opinions. the nazis also excercised great party discipline, should we be more like them? as for those wimpy moderates costing us elections, check the last few dems to win president elections. moderates clinton, carter and kennedy. all under what i consider the moderate label. the reason shy R's win is bc while the extereme right doesnt alwsys agree with moderate positions taken by some of their candidates, they have now realized (after pat robertson and pat buchanan experiments) that a moderate R is better than a Dem. thats is better to get 80% of what they want, even if its not 100%, than it is to get 20% or 0%. if, as i often say, we contunue to create greater divide amongst ourselves instead of searching for common ground, we are doomed to repeat out election failures.

DeanFan84 said...

I'm glad Carter, Kennedy and Clinton are now moderate Dems. That must make we one as well. :)

I still believe we lose elections because we come off as wimps devoid of conviction. It's hard to sell someone on your ideas when a third of your Party is apologizing for them. It's not a matter of tolerating dissent. It's about not having your act together.

The R's win because they hang tight. Dems must learn to hang tight too! And that doesn't mean accepting any and all behavior from our Party members.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

i think in looking at the political spectrum that those guys, when elected, were always considered mod dems. so yes, you too, may have some mod dem in you deanfan. in fact, we both support the same dem in 08. mark warner. however, we will just have to agree to disagree on whether or not directing resources to work against lieberman is in the democratic parties best interest when there are so many other things at stake. in the very least, you must admit that he is a vote for harry reid as a senate leader. a similar view taken by R's when assessing shays and arlen spector.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Carter, Kennedy and Clinton are now moderate Dems. That must make we one as well. :)

DeanFan surely you don't align yourself with "DLC Bill"? Any real Democrat knows that Clinton was just a Republican-lite moron, like EVERYONE in the DLC! AM I RIGHT?!?!?

Genghis Conn said...

Do Democrats need to hang together to win? Republicans tend to (some of them, at least), but I'm not sure that it's that simple. History suggests that occupying a wing and the middle at the same time is victory. That's how Clinton won, and why Democrats had a majority in Congress for 40 years.

I suppose an argument could be made that both parties occupy different stretches of the middle, and that the extra discipline would help Democrats gain the small amount of ground they need to win.

Just talking out ideas, here.

Aldon Hynes said...

If I thought the Lamont/Lieberman race was about some rich guy from Greenwich that doesn’t like one of Lieberman’s positions, such as the war, I would be inclined to simply write off the effort. I thought this were simply about imposing some sort of party discipline, I would be uncomfortable about the effort.

However, I think this is about something much bigger. People have talked about this being a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, and I think they are right. However, the soul of the Democratic Party isn’t defined by single issues like the war. It is defined by a commitment to work hard together, to give everyone a chance to be heard, to have a strong debate and then to stand up for what you believe, showing some backbone.

We’ve had Senator Lieberman over to our house. My wife has spoken with him at several different events. I like Joe. I wish he was more like the Joe Lieberman who fought so hard for everyone in his younger days. Yet the feeling I’ve gotten from many people who have spent much more time talking to him than I have, is that something happened back in 2000. He stopped being that guy who would listen to all of us, who was concerned for all of us and who would fight for all of us. Senator Lieberman needs to get back to the delicatessens across Connecticut.

This reflects some comments that Senator Schumer made on a bloggers conference call, probably about a month ago. Schumer is head of the DSCC. He was talking about a problem that a lot of Senators have had is that they’ve lost touch with their constituents. He was telling the Senators to get home every weekend and get out in their communities.

Will Senator Lieberman heed that message? Will he be able to reverse the damage he has done to his image? I don’t know. However, I’m not sure that a large campaign warchest is what will make the difference. Senator Lieberman needs to reconnect with his constituents and he can’t do that via TV ads. He needs to get out there and interact.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lamont is starting to get out there. He is starting to interact. People like that and are getting excited about his campaign.

It is going to be an exciting time to be a Democrat in Connecticut. Mr. Lamont’s campaign will help a lot and this will help other Democrats as well. I will not guess at whether Ned or Joe will win the primary. However, I feel certain that one group of people will win, and that is the voters who will be given a good campaign. This is the sort of Democracy we should be fighting for here in our country.

Anonymous said...

Ned Lamont was at the Orange DTC reception on Sunday night. So were Blumenthal, Malloy, DeStefano, Bysiewicz (sp?), Slossberg, and Paul Davis.

Ned did not speak, but the reception was not an appropriate moment for a speech by Lamont. Yet his presence wasn't treated as a scandal. No one was trying to throw him out. His staffer said later that he received plenty of support from the establishment Dems present. Even if they don't want to vote for Lamont, at the very least they believe a primary challenge provides debate, which is good.

So Joementum should start sweating. Even the friendliest DTC support is soft.

DD said...

GC- may I recommend reading a book along those exact lines...Carvell and Begala's new book "Take it back".

Not everyone on this blog will like it, it is very critical of democrats, and rightfully so, of how we lack a clear party message, we tend to pander to too many groups, and because of the two we lack cohesion in the party. However, it comes from two guys whose love for the party can't be questioned and it gives a lot of insight about how we should proceed to win elections in the future.

DeanFan84 said...

It's official.

Joe is set to abandon Dems, and vote with Republicans for cloture on the Alito vote.

Hey Joe, I'm not stupid. This voting for Alito, before voting against him bit isn't going to fly. The first vote is the only one that matters, and you have shown yourself to be anything but a friend to NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and women in general.

DeanFan84 said...

and DD--

Carville is hack with no credibility left. No diehard Dem would ever marry that Republican gas-bag Mary Matalin.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, please be real here. Joe came out against Alito last week. Kerry called for this filibuster after he knew that there werent enough votes to sustain it, from switzerland no less. and how did he know the votes werent there? bc harry reid told him so. as did obama on the talk shows over the weekend. this filibuster was a joke from the get go. if the dems wanted to stop Alito they would have presented a better case to the American public during the hearings. instead, biden and kennedy just wanted to hear themselves talk. further, if kerry was serious about the filibuster, he would have started it sooner with wider and stonger support. so you really cant pin this one on Joe.

DD said...


My Mom always said, and I'm sure you felt this way after a certain scream in Iowa, you can't choose who you love.

Anonymous said...

Question: What goes "I'm still relevant! ... I'm still relevant! ... I'm still relevant!"?

Answer: John Kerry on the ski slopes of Davos!

Anonymous said...

anon 2:38 who was " the staffer" that was with LaMont at the Orange DTC?

Anonymous said...

Kim Hynes

Anonymous said...

No matter how much lieberman tacks to the left ....its just a tactical move to discourage a primary challenge from Ned LaMont or anyone...we all know he is as phoney as a 3 dollar bill.

Lieberman doesnt talk to the party troops only to the elite and rich people of both we sit here you can be sure he is doing business with republicans...

his former chief of staff was a big Rowland fundraiser....his chief of staff's husband's group has profited from the Senator by way of federal funds for his group.

Joe also gets paid off when his "consultant" wife is hired by corporations in DC and is paid in the huundreds of thousands....

He didnt do much for the last few Dem Gubernatorial candidates...he campaigned the bare minimum..a few days and raised Curry maybe 35k....the same with the last 2 candidates...

Whenever he can he bashes the Democratic Party but yet loves to say how close he is to Sean Hannity,Bill Bennett,Bob Novak and a host of other Republicans.He is the Democrat that movement conservative Republicans like best according to polls.

A primary is what the doctor ordered and frankly win or lose it will be a win for those of us that understand his "act"

Anonymous said...

If Kim Hynes is staffing LaMont its a big mistake...1st she has absolutely no experience in a statewide race...2nd her husband is a DeSefano staffer and frankly hasnt given us the curtesy of any disclose...if this is true...3rd..there is a friendly relationship there with Lieberman and malloy

Anonymous said...


Comments aren't working on the most recent thread.

Genghis Conn said...

Should be fixed, anonymous... try posting there now.

Kimberly said...

That's why I'm not the campaign manager, anonymous.

Aldon Hynes said...

Anon(5:36) Kim and I will do everything we can to help get Ned Lamont elected to the U.S. Senate.

The details of what this will be remains to be defined, but it did include Kim going to the Love Makes a Family event and the Orange DTC event yesterday. It will most likely involve me driving him from the Greenwich DFA meeting to the Norwalk DFA meeting on Wednesday evening.

Kim and I have remained friendly with Dan Malloy, even though I work for the DeStefano campaign, and I expect we will remain friendly with him whatever roles we take with the Lamont campaign.

I also hope we will remain friendly with Senator Lieberman, even though we will be working for his opponent.

You will also notice that our four year old daughter is very excited about Ned's campaign. However, she remains friendly with Gov. Dean and with Diane Farrell. Given her lack of experience with statewide races, she may end up mistakenly shouting Vote for Diane or Vote for Howard when she is out campaigning for Ned. She might even lose focus and play with her dolls for a little bit.

Some people may choose to attack the campaign for such lapses, but my experience thus far has been that people launching those sort of attacks usually end up looking rather silly themselves.

I do thank you for bring up the issue of 'friendliness' in campaigns. The lack of civility and friendliness is a serious problem in politics today, especially when it comes in the form of anonymous attacks.

DeanFan84 said...

Psst... Aldon--

When Joe deserts the Party, will you still be friendly towards him?

B/C that is what he has said he will do if Democrats decide they prefer Ned.

IMHO, Zell Miller doesn't deserve any friends.

Aldon Hynes said...

df84: Do you mean if he deserts the party even further?

Yeah, probably. I've got friends who are Green, I've got friends who are Republicans.

Just because Kim got me a pin that says Yellow Dog on it and I think the bumper sticker, Friends don't let friends vote Republican is cute, doesn't mean I won't still have drinks with Republicans.

Gabe said...

Kim - where do I sign up? I say that toung-in-cheek, I've already signed up at

What I mean is, where are we on the 1,000 volunteers to make this for real?

When do I get to do something?

Kimberly said...

Gabe - wnat to set up a house meeting? e-mail me.

CTPatriot said...

To the Moderate Dem - ordinarily I would agree with you to a certain extent, that polticians from ANY party should be free to vote their conscience and have original ideas. However, it is that very approach that has allowed the Bushites to literally put this country at the door of fascism.

The GOP Senators no longer operate as independent thinkers. They are, instead, the 21st Century version of fundamentalist sycophants, marching in lockstep with Herr leader.

As it stands now, the Democratic Senators serve as nothing more than weak, spineless enablers, more concerned with civility and comeraderie than with their oath of office and their commitment to the good of the people.

The Democrats MUST form a united front in order to stop what is happening. They did so not long ago when Harry Reid shut down the Senate and look at the positive impact that had.

You are most likely right with your cynical view of Kerry and Kennedy's late arrival to the filibuster game. However, that is no excuse for the rest of the Dems failing to recognize the import of this call to arms, or to hear the voices of the hundreds of thousands of us who spent the last week calling, faxing and e-mailing them.

Lieberman's choice not to support the filibuster followed by a meaningless "no" vote in order to craft a false image (just as he did with the bankruptcy bill) for those voters that aren't paying attention, was the last straw for me.

Not only is it important that we replace him because he is aiding in the destruction of this country, but it is time that the Democratic party, and the 19 cowards unwilling to do everything in their power to keep "strip search Sammy Alito" off the Supreme Court, are held accountable. Even if New Lamont is only marginally better than Lieberman, that's enough reason for me to support him.