Last night's debate wasn't about issues, but character. How do you react when the unexpected happens? What do you do when someone is trying to shut down your forum? As much as I loathe the actions of the LaRouche crowd their stunt did allow us to see the true colors of each candidate.
Joe Lieberman is already familiar with the LaRouche crowd. They pulled similar stunts during a primary debate when he was running for president. He should have at least had an idea of who these people were, but why let facts get in the way of a good story? The Senator took the opportunity to blame Lamont. When the singing started Joe looked over at Ned and said: "Do you support this?"
Lamont was the first of the three candidates to ask the protesters to stop. He tried to reason with them, which was of course ineffective. Did Joe appreciate the support? Of course not. He came out with: "Your candidate, Ned Lamont has asked you to stop."
The glee club didn't't stop, and neither did the Senator. During his final statement the song started again. The entire audience was livid, and the situation was quickly spiraling out of control. Alan Schlesinger stood up and shouted: "Show some respect for Senator Lieberman. Leave this audience now!"
It worked. Schlesinger's outburst actually got them to stop for a minute. The police escorted them out of the theater and closing statements could continue. How did Joe Lieberman react to being defended again by his other opponent? He made a crack at Schlesinger's expense. "Thank you Alan. I'm real glad you came out from that bus you said you were under."
Lieberman likes to frame his political career as one of convictions and character. Last night voters in Connecticut saw those convictions in action. The LaRouche protesters attempts to silence the debate were vile. Lamont and Schlesinger's first instinct was to stand up for civil discourse. Joe Lieberman was only interested in scoring political hits against his opponents, both of whom had just stood up for him and his right to be heard.