Joe Lieberman has dragged out the bear ad again. Remember the bear ad from 1988? In it, Sen. Lowell Weicker was portrayed as a sleeping bear who had missed too many votes. Now, apparently, the bear has a cub. You can watch the ad here on Lieberman's website.
The same DC consultant hit man, Carter Askew, designed both ads. The new one shows Weicker coming out of his cave, still angry 18 years later that Joe Lieberman beat him. But he's too lazy to run again. "Instead of coming out of hibernation," the narrator informs us, "he sent his bear cub instead." (In fact, Weicker had nothing to do with Lamont choosing to run for Senate.) It portrays Lamont as a whining, hop-about baby who doesn't want to run against Lieberman because he previously gave Lieberman a campaign contribution. "But I agree with the Republicans 80 percent of the time!" cartoon Lamont protests in a shrill toddler's voice. But as a "cub" he has to listen to the big bear.
The new ad brings another modern Beltway campaign attack mode to Connecticut: Bush adviser Karl Rove's strategy of taking your own weakness and turning it into your opponent's weakness instead, through relentless misrepresentation of facts. (Bass)
The evidence does in fact suggest that Weicker didn't have a hand in urging Lamont to run. Yes, there are Weicker/Lamont connections (Lamont was a Weicker appointee in the 1990s, there are several high-profile Weicker people working for or around the Lamont campaign, and Weicker is holding a fundraiser for Lamont this weekend), but the idea of Weicker forcing Lamont to run is nuts.
While the Lamont ads have at times attacked Lieberman (the dog ad, for example), the attacks from Lieberman's camp have been much more vicious, more personal, and prone to focusing on small details that are either old, taken out of context, or entirely made up.
The bear ad worked in 1988 because it capitalized on voters' long-simmering dislike of Weicker, who had been in the Senate for eighteen years. But now, most people have only dim memories of Weicker as a senator or even as governor. An attack ad primarily featuring Weicker the Bear seems out of place and odd, and the depiction of Lamont as a hyper bear cub with a squeaky voice in a pink shirt (was that deliberate? I have to think so) is the worst sort of personal attack.
It's pathetic. Joe Lieberman should be better than this. The image he's crafted for himself of a noble, conscience-driven statesman demands that he be better than this. People support Lieberman because they believe he's a good man. If he keeps slinging this kind of toxic mud, they may change their minds.
Ironically, so far the Lieberman ads have had little effect on polls. Lamont continues to gain. What if Joe Lieberman just sacrificed his credibility and his noble image for nothing?
Bass, Paul. "The Bear Is Back." New Haven Independent 16 June, 2006.