It's been a lousy week for Joe Lieberman.
It started off with a Lamont ad calling for him to support the eventual primary winner, and then got worse when Lieberman's friends tried to help by saying wild, dimwitted things. Lamont got endorsements from two big teachers' unions, then, even worse, a Rasmussen poll showed Lamont only six points behind among likely primary voters.
It was then that the strategic geniuses at the Lieberman campaign decided to unleash their secret weapon: Son of Bear Ad, which turned out to be a miserable, unwatchable flop. Lieberman ended the week with an acerbic interview with David Broder, in which he compares the Lamont campaign and its supporters to a "crusade or jihad." Nice.
The one bright spot in the week, in which the Lieberman campaign agreed to a debate, seemed like a bitter concession, especially given the venom of the Lieberman press release.
Now, newspapers which saw Lamont as something of a novelty (and Lieberman as a foregone conclusion) a month ago are now taking a hard look at the Joe Lieberman who has been revealed by this week's events, and asking tough questions about his character and motivations. Connecticut voters who were paying attention might be starting to ask those questions, too.
So it can't get worse, right? This has to be rock bottom for Joe Lieberman. The image he's spent years honing, that of a prudent, intelligent, thoughtful compromiser with a ton of integrity, has been tarnished, perhaps irrevocably so. His campaign is wasting time and money on ads and statements that hurt more than they help, and the media honeymoon Lamont is enjoying just keeps getting longer.
Lieberman is a smart guy with a ton of campaign experience. He'll find a way to pull out of the nose dive somehow. We may see some campaign shakeups, a couple of firings here and there, and maybe some better-made ads and a stronger defense of his record. The debate will give Lieberman a chance to gain back a lot of ground, if he can manage to show up as Joe the Statesman, and not as the bitter, arrogant candidate we've seen over the past week.
He'll come out of it. But by then, it may be too late. There is one way things could get worse for Lieberman, of course, and that's being Joe Unemployed next January.