Last night's debate between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman was all about positioning Ned Lamont as a credible alternative to Joe Lieberman. Credibility was the ongoing theme with Lieberman questioning the relentless half truths and distortions of his record in a direct confrontation of Lamont, and Lamont scrambling to sound credible when talking about the issues.
Aside from the fact that Lamont was nervous and seemed transfixed by some unseen headlights bearing down on him, his answers were devoid of debate and just a repetition of his campaign slogans, and empty business speak. In other words, Lamont was exactly who he is, a suit used to selling features without fundamentally understanding what he is talking about.
Lieberman by contrast was at ease, at times aggressive towards Lamont. His performance was not the usual dry and boring recitation of nuanced policy points. He poked holes through Lamont's wavering statements on Iraq, and highlighted his long history of opposing Bush administration policies. Lieberman articulated his positions, why he held them and where they fit in his political philosophy.
Lieberman successfully framed Ned Lamont as a guy who was running against George Bush and Lamont helped by turning every answer into a George Bush attack. The big problem for Lamont was that George Bush was on another channel answering questions from Larry King, and the guy he is really running against is Joe Lieberman.
Last night more people tuned in to watch the Mets and Yankees win, than the debate. They missed the opportunity to be introduced to Greenwich's version of Lynn Westmoreland. It is unlikely that the debate will sway the people who watched much. The angry liberals will continue their war on the war, and baseball games will attract more interest. The question of who will show up on August 8th remains unanswered, but the larger question of who should be going to Washington in November looks like Joe Lieberman.