Friday, July 21, 2006

The Lieberman Campaign: What Happened?

How did it come to this?

Joe Lieberman and his campaign staff must be asking themselves just that question this morning. How does an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, a central figure in Connecticut Democratic politics for more than 35 years, find himself in a stastistical tie with a man who was a complete unknown seven months ago? Worse for Lieberman, the poll's not an anomaly:
I just wrote a piece for the latest print issue on the Lieberman campaign and I thought I had a bit of a scoop: a recent unpublished independent poll actually had Lieberman trailing Lamont 48 to 44. Then this morning Quinnipiac--the Godzilla of Connecticut polling--released its first poll in more than a month. It shows Lamont leading Lieberman 51 to 47. Looks like that unpublished independent poll was on to something. (Zengerle)

He must have seen it coming two weeks ago, when he decided to start collecting petitions. His campaign's internal polls probably showed Lamont gaining all through June, and once the gap was closed Lieberman felt like he had no choice but to get those petitions ready.

So how did it happen? Believe it or not, it isn't just those scheming bloggers, or a bunch of antiwar leftists hijacking the Democratic Party. There's more. Yes, part of it has to do with Lamont himself, but this rift between Lieberman and his own party has been building up for a long time. Some examples:

  • The Early Years: (This was suggested by tparty at LamontBlog, and he's right)
    I'd only add that while this has really kicked in since his 2000 VP run, this actually all started way before 1998 and impeachment. You can go back to Joe's fight against universal healthcare, his deceit on Clarence Thomas' nomination, his wishy-washyness on affirmative action, his sanctimonious moralizing about Hollywood with Bill Bennett and company, and his ties to right-wing figures like William F. Buckley that got him off the ground vs. Weicker in the first place.
    Good points. It's very interesting to note that Democratic discomfort with Lieberman began with the endgame to the Republican Party's annoyance with Lowell Weicker.


  • Attacks on Clinton: Bill Clinton may be coming to Waterbury to campaign for Lieberman later this month, but back in 1998 Lieberman was one of the first Democrats to criticize Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, which added fuel to the Republicans' fire. This is when Lieberman vaulted on to the national stage for the first time, much like Lowell Weicker did during Watergate. And, like Weicker post-Watergate, it caused some in his own party to turn their backs on him.


  • A Debate in Which he was Nice: Lieberman was cordial and genial during the 2000 vice presidential debate, when he faced Dick Cheney. Many Democrats felt he did a poor job at best.


  • Down a Senator: Lieberman ran for both U.S. Senator and Vice President in 2000. What if he had won the vice presidency, as many believe he actually did? John Rowland would have appointed his replacement, and tilted the balance to the Republicans. President Gore would have faced an entirely GOP Congress thanks to Lieberman. More grumbling.


  • Where'd You Go, Joe? I keep hearing that, after 2000, Lieberman was somehow different. He grew less responsive. He became, in his mind as well as in fact, a national political figure. He got too big for tiny Connecticut, which mattered not at all in the presidential primary season, and wasn't a swing state.


  • Friend of Bush: There has been a perception building for some time that Lieberman is too close to the Administration. He didn't help matters by going on Fox News and bashing other Democrats, or by making public statements like:

  • Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.

    Some in my party threaten to send a message that they don't know a just war when they see it, and more broadly that they're not prepared to use our military strength to protect our security and the cause of freedom.

    I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there.

    We undermine the President's credibility at our nation's peril.
    And so on.

  • Iraq: The war's never been popular in Connecticut. Lieberman, as seen above, has consistently supported it. That was bound to produce some friction, although Lieberman apparently never saw it coming.


  • Worst Campaign Ever: Democrats in Connecticut started seriously searching for an anti-war candidate in late 2005, and conversations about a Lieberman challenger were going on long before that. But Ned Lamont would not have managed to be ahead of Lieberman in the polls right now without Lieberman's help. He has run a vicious, negative, petty and largely pointless campaign. The campaign has done more to undermine Lieberman's image as a genial statesman than Lamont ever could, and it's cost him.


  • Independent Joe: Now he's willing to turn his back on Democratic primary voters by running as an independent should he lose. It's the last straw for some.


In short, Lieberman has always managed to annoy a certain slice of Democrats. That slice has been growing steadily during the endless crises of the past five years, and Lieberman himself has poured fuel on the fire during this campaign.

So if the Lieberman campaign is wondering why Connecticut Democrats have "suddenly" turned on their candidate, they should look to the past, and to Lieberman's own actions over the last decade.

Source

Zengerle, Jason. "Ned Lamont: Front-Runner." Blog Post. The Plank. 21 July, 2006.

31 comments:

BRubenstein said...

The Iraq Prime Minister and Legislature who Joe helped to put in have just condemed US..for agreeing that Isreal was right to defend themsleves.This means that Joe/Bush sent over 2500 americans to their death and over 600 billion dollars..all to set up a government in which iran has more influence then they have...so not only is Bush/Joe wrong on the war..they are incompetant as well..........and all the while the middle east is less stable then before the war...THANKS JOE

bluecoat said...

Joe doesn't need CT as you can see from82% of Lieberman donors in May, June are from out of state or at least he doesn't need CT folks for money

CC said...

I disagree with the main post. Joe (like most Dems) toes the party line on basically every issue (especially the ones that count most save for national security issues) and, with great respect to GC, a senior senator is not discarded by a party for being nice to an opponent at a debate or even for criticizing an impeached President of the same party. To the extent a backlash has been growing against him it is solely due to the war. It's also most reflective of the growing strength of the far left within the Democrat party that is staunchly against the war. How else to explain that Joe was the darling of the Dems just six years ago and now they are ready to throw him out for a man unheard of less than a year ago?

Genghis Conn said...

CC,

You're right on one thing: if it had been any of those things, by themselves, he'd be in no trouble. But all of these things which have been causing Dems to grumble for years, together with Iraq, a smart Lamont campaign and a terrible Lieberman campaign, has caused the perfect storm for Lieberman.

It's not just Iraq, although admittedly that's a lot of it. There's always been discontent with Lieberman to some degree.

bluecoat said...

Joe bought some Halliburton too2 candidates taking stock Lieberman, Lamont both haveput their money on Halliburton
PETER URBAN
and to be truthful halliburton is where it is today with the Army because of Clinton policies - Bush just extended them for his quick in and out war in Iraq; yes we were mislead..

BRubenstein said...

CC...please...Joe is losing and will lose for alot more then the war....and..he never was a "darling of the dems", but was selected by Gore to be the balancing conservative...a role in which he was lousy...

A perfect "confluenece of events,issues and positions" have made Joementum dispensible to Connecticut voters

Loof for the numbers in a 3way race to change drastically after Lamonts win on August 8th..

Anonymous said...

I think that it does not help that he has been very weak on women's issues (in spite of NOW endorsement)

bluecoat said...

BTW, Joe was talking out loud one day and said he had his sights set on the Governor job if he lost the Senate. Really, can't somebody get him a job on K Street and get him out of our hair?

Anonymous said...

"Dude, like why you dissin my candidate....and saying I'm running the worst campaign ever.. you are sooo gnarly about this.....maybe after August 8 i'll go back and check out the waves in La Jolla and lose all you losers..."

FatGuyinMiddleSeat said...

You're forgetting that Joe's vote on the Senate Resolution for the First Gulf War also got a lot of national attention. He was a newby, technically still a freshman. Gov. Weicker had to send in the State Police to guard his home from angry protestors.

Brubenstein, when was the middle east more stable? When Clinton convinced the Israelis to exit Gaza and the West Bank, thinking that it would lead to peace? The middle east will be unstable as long as extremists infest Israel's borders with the goal of driving them into the sea. 1948, 1967, 1973 and today. 1995 was illusory, the Wye River was a joke. It's time to get real. Joe gets this, Ned Lamont has been too busy hooking up cable for college kids to understand the history here.

One tie-in for all this regarding Joe- his criticism of the L'Affaire Lewinsky was on the mark. After all, Yassir Arafat was only the third most frequent visitor to the West Wing from 1995-1997- right behind Denise Rich and Monica.

bluecoat said...

Yeah, and Joe thought BushI was wrong not to go into Bagdad and take saddam out after the Caolition Forces (which included a number of Arab nations)liberated Kuwait . Joe knows the Middle East for sure. Yuck.

CC said...

BR: Joe's voting pattern shows that he is by no means a conservative Democrat in the mold of Ben Nelson. The one issue that he arguably stands apart from other Dems is the war.

Also, I would like to thank you for bringing up the issue of who wins a three-way race. With the latest poll numbers showing Lamon ahead, I think it's time for this blog to start discussing the implications of a three-way race.

BRubenstein said...

CC and Fatguy....here is the deal


Joe was fed lies and distortions and still backed Bush bigtime ..even knowing the info was wrong...and still does..

We lost over 2500 good americans and over 600 billion dollars in Iraq....

Bush with Joe's agreement and approval sets up an Iraq government...said goverment and prime minister yesterday chastised US...thats right..the same folks Bush/Joe put in berated our government with siding with Isreal over the incursion into Lebanon...


Bush/Joe cant even be competant enough to put in allies in Iraq that would support us...its no wonder Lamont is whipping Joe's ass.

ct_husky said...

On a somewhat related note, it looks like Lieberman's people are still doing some polling of their own. Just got off the phone with someone from "the Democratic Party" - although the caller ID showed Lieberman HQ - asking who I would vote for if the primary were held tomorrow. She claimed to have a few questions, but once she asked that first one and I responded with "Mr. Lamont", she sounded pretty annoyed and hung up. Oh, I cannot wait for Aug. 8th.

bluecoat said...

BR: I respectfully disagree; Joe didn't care about WMD's, like Bush he wanted to take Saddam out and force Democracy dowm people's throats who needed stability and security first. the WMD thing was just how to sell it to the American people; most who understood the region voted for the use of necessary force to get saddam to disarm without a war; there was already an order from Bush signed in Nov 2001 for authoriizing covert action to bring Saddam to justice with the rules of engagement being self defense....

MikeB said...

Factor in that Lieberman has been a spectacularly dim-witted politician, no ears to the ground there. My Senator Russ Feingold was actually making some of the same moves in 1998, voted against Clinton in one key vote and the only Dem to do so. Caused a massive shitstorm in Wisconsin. Under the crypto-fascist onslaught, though, Russ has tacked left (or sane). Joe took the other path.
.

Anonymous said...

BR - The Iraqi government's response to the Israeli / Hezbollah conflict is not surprising. Hezbollah and the Iraqi government share the same religious and political ideology.

This is why Bush '41 did not take out Saddam. His administration could not see any way that deposing Saddam would not result in a radical Shiite regime in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the neocons infesting the Bush administration are either blindingly incompetent such that they didn't forsee this outcome, or they are perfectly happy with it.

Here's the scary part. If we pull out of Iraq, the result will most likely be ascendency of a Shiite regime allied with Iran and aggressive towards Israel. Aggressively supporting Hezbollah in a conflict with Israel would be a great way for the Iraqi government to unite the various Iraqi factions.

Up until the invasion of Iraq, the Saddam government (evil though it was) provided an ironically stabilizing force in the region. It was opposed to the radical Shiite (that's "Islamist" in Lieberman-speak) movements because they were a direct threat to Saddam's Ba'thists and their hold on power.

Now here's the problem for those of us who'd like to get out of Iraq sooner rather than later. How do we get out without leaving behind an Iraqi government aligned in an unholy alliance with Iran and Syria against Israel?

FatGuyinMiddleSeat said...

Echoing Bluecoat back at BR:

Joe voted for and Clinton signed the widely-supported Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998.

Also, a direct quote from the Joe Lieberman 2000 Debate- that is, the Joe you DID vote for:

"...The fact is that we will not enjoy real stability in the Middle East until Saddam Hussein is gone. The Gulf War was a great victory. And incidentally, Al Gore and I were two of the ten Democrats in the Senate who crossed party lines to support President Bush and Secretary Cheney in that war. We're proud we did that. The war did not end with a total victory. Saddam Hussein remained there. As a result, we have had almost ten years now of instability. We have continued to operate almost all of this time military action to enforce a no-fly zone. We have been struggling with Saddam about the inspectors. We're doing everything we can to get the inspectors back in there. But in the end there's not going to be peace until he goes. And that's why I was proud to co-sponsor the Iraq Liberation Act with Senator Trent Lott where I have kept in touch with the Iraqi opposition, broad base. We met with them earlier this year. We are supporting them in their efforts and will continue to support them until the Iraqi people rise up and do what the people of Serbia have done in the last few days, get rid of a despot. We'll welcome you back into the family of nations where you belong."

You voted for this guy and Al Gore, BRube. Nothing you can do, even supporting Ned Lamont, can remotely begin to compensate for this grievous mistake. I hope you voted for Nader.

Anonymous said...

"How else to explain that Joe was the darling of the Dems just six years ago"

Joe was never the darling of the Dems. He was the darling of DC Media Elite. Gore picked him because he knew Lieberman would be a popular choice with the press. And he was.

Anonymous said...

"One tie-in for all this regarding Joe- his criticism of the L'Affaire Lewinsky was on the mark."

Then how do you explain Joe's silence/apology for;

* Bush lies leading up to the Iraq war

* Gitmo

* Abu Gharib

* Violations of the Geneva Convention

* Katrina non-response

* Illegal wiretapping

I can go on and on. Lieberman who was huffing and puffing over a president lying about his sex life cannot find any outrage over far worse offences by Bush.

FatGuyinMiddleSeat said...

But you miss the point. All of that time with Lewinsky came right out of Arafat's time with Clinton. Had Clinton spent even more time with Arafat, we would be talking peace, instead of all this nonsense.

And don't forget, Clinton bombed Iraq the day the House voted on impeachment.

If Clinton had listened to Joe, we would have peace in Israel-Lebanon-Gaza (more time with Arafat) and he might have finished off Iraq in December 1998.

(If you're taking the above seriously, you need a dose of irony.)

The question is: were you voting green in 2000 on both the Senate and Presidential line? If not, you endorsed all of Joe's previous behavior. And you're responsible for all he's done since. And you have to live with all of the blood you spilled.

No, Joe never went nuts like Dick Durbin, comparing our troops to the Khmer Rouge, but perhaps that would have satisfied you.

And what do you mean by "silence/apology"? Is there not a distinction between them?

Without litigating each of your litany of complaints, Joe "lied" no more than John Kerry or Hillary or Bill Clinton lied about the war.

My favorite compaint is the "Katrina non-response". Joe is the junior Senator from Connecticut. (If you are unfamiliar with local geography, the Gulf Coast is about 2500 miles away.) What didn't he do that say, Chris Dodd, did? If you can stand to read something that does not comport with your world view, I recommend that you read Douglas Brinkley's book about Katrina- all levels of government failed. Funny, the book skipped the part about Joe Lieberman defunding the levies and devising a plan to put everyone in the Convention Center.

Anonymous said...

Before the debate, Joe would have won as an independent because he was a "statesman." But during the debate, he started bragging about bringing home the pork (earmarks). This seriously hurt his "statesman" image. I tend to be open-minded and vote for the candidate. And I believe that his bragging about getting pork is what will ultimately doom his chances in November.

Politically, Lamont can't touch those words. But if TRULY independent parties (i.e. no one named Dean) use those words, independent voters will lose faith in Joe and gravitate back toward the party for which they usually vote.

Joe shot himself in the foot during the debate.

Before the debate I thought Joe would win as an independent. Now I'm fairly certain that Ned will be the one taking the oath in January.

VizierVic said...

FatGuyinMiddleSeat at 8:40 PM, July 21, 2006 said...

"If Clinton had listened to Joe, we would have peace in Israel-Lebanon-Gaza (more time with Arafat) and he might have finished off Iraq in December 1998."

Yeah, that's a funny one. Is your day job a comedian in the Catskills these days?

No, Joe never went nuts like Dick Durbin, comparing our troops to the Khmer Rouge, but perhaps that would have satisfied you.

Well, I guess if you want to support an enabler of torturers and war criminals, be my guest. The US operated reeducation sessions for folks like that after WW2 though.

Lieberman's biggest failure is that he's forgotten that his primary duty is to protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States. He should be defeated for reelection based on that fact alone.

BRubenstein said...

we shouldnt have gone in into Iraq in the first place...and we should leave ASAP...let them sort it out themselves.

FatGuyinMiddleSeat said...

Vizivizi-

Occasionally, when touring the Catskills, delivering my borscht-belt material, I'd get to listen in on some of the big party bosses who'd go up there to get out of the heat.

The whole point of Joe's Monica statement was to protect Clinton- to innoculate him. You're looking at a game of chess, thinking it's checkers. Joe had NOTHING to gain politically with his mild rebuke- his base was behind Clinton- heck, Joe has known Clinton since 1970, when Bubba helped him run for State Senate.

What Joe did was set a boundary- a reasonable outer boundary for how far that impeachment / censure charade should go- for Democrats and moderate Republicans. The talk shifted away from gory details to how Joe took his friend to task- and then the story shifted to Joe saying "but impeachment is not the right way forward." The guy sets the moral high ground, then sets the boundary. Pretty clever, huh? "Air cover" is another word for it.

The Clintons drop friends like Tip O'Neill drops shot glasses. Lani Guinier being a prime example. Bill loves Joe- and he knew what Joe was doing for him in 1998 was designed to ultimately help Bill Clinton.

The proof is in the pudding. Bubba's eating pizza in Waterbury with Joe.

Now was Joe disgusted with what Bill did? Yeah. But he wouldn't have spoken out if he didn't think it would help him out.

And Vizi- it's good to know you still stand behind Dick Durbin's obscene, ill-informed statements about Git-mo, which Dick Durbin himself has already taken back, having visited the place. At least we know where you're coming from-

Brube, Saddam Hussein and Jack Murtha are in total agreement with you on that last point. I agree with you that we have to get out- it's just a matter of how it's done. If only John Kerry will tell us now what his secret plan was in 2004...

Anonymous said...

The whole point of Joe's Monica statement was to protect Clinton- to innoculate him. You're looking at a game of chess, thinking it's checkers. Joe had NOTHING to gain politically with his mild rebuke- his base was behind Clinton- heck, Joe has known Clinton since 1970, when Bubba helped him run for State Senate.

What Joe did was set a boundary- a reasonable outer boundary for how far that impeachment / censure charade should go- for Democrats and moderate Republicans. The talk shifted away from gory details to how Joe took his friend to task- and then the story shifted to Joe saying "but impeachment is not the right way forward." The guy sets the moral high ground, then sets the boundary. Pretty clever, huh? "Air cover" is another word for it.


At last, somebody explaining the obvious to the oblivious. The ignorance on display here is astonishing.

bluecoat said...

I beleive Dick Durbin apologized on the Senate floor for his comments and they were accepted by a number of reasonable Republicans.

Anonymous said...

"bluecoat's"' defintion of a "reasonable Republican"

=a pledge at the Omega House

"Thank you sir, may I have another"

bluecoat said...

You're describing GWB's favorite pledge,pliable Bill Frist, but I don't consider him among the reasonable in the Senate at all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I have to call BS,

the Lamont campaign has been the MOST negative attack filled campaign I have ever seen. This guy is blowing millions of his own dollars to attack Liberman and buy a seat in the Senate. its utterly disgraceful. I am sitting here wondering when the hell I am going to hear ANYTHING from the Liberman camp. Every week I get attack ads from Lamont comparing Joe and Bush, every night I see his attack commercials on TV.

I have yet to see 1 attacking Lamont, other than a lit drop I got in my mail box a few months ago.

Markovich said...

Oh, I fully agree with the main post. I was fed up with Joe Lieberman the day after his "debate" with Dick Cheney. Some fight that was.