High Noon: Lamont Should Challenge Karl/Lieberman to 30 National Security Debates

08/16/2006 10:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I have been there and done that. One of the
early targets of the Swift Boat attack-style
campaigns was Lloyd Bentsen when Phil
Gramm ran against him with the "soft on
communism" attack. I remember Bentsen
late one night, pounding his fist on his desk,
saying: "I am going to destroy him". In that
election, he did.

Connecticut presents an extraordinary moment
for Ned Lamont to change the course of our
national politics and set Democrats on a new
trajectory to national leadership.

Make no mistake: it has begun. Within weeks
the Karl Rove-induced campaign of Senator
Karl Lieberman will accuse Ned of being
related to Don Corleone, sympathetic to
Joseph Stalin (that one has already begun),
and leaflets will appear suggesting that Ned
is a flag burning transvestite.

Make no mistake: as a relative newcomer, Ned
Lamont is vulnerable to a saturation slander
campaign. It is no coincidence that within hours Dick Cheney and Karl
Lieberman made
the preposterous attack on Lamont based on
the recent terror bust. But understand, folks,
these guys are good at this. When Lieberman
demeans himself aligning with Cheney with
such a transparently bogus attack, he does
it for a reason: it has worked before, largely
because Democrats were weak and naive
and did not know what they were up against
or how to respond.

If Ned Lamont handles this well, by Veterans
Day 2006, Senator-elect Lamont will be on the
short list for Vice-President in 2008. Here is
how: it is High Noon, and the good voters of
Connecticut can fire the political shot heard
around the world and run the Swift Boat style
of smears right out of town.

Ned Lamont should challenge Karl Lieberman
to thirty national security debates, face to face,
man to man, head to head, issue by issue and
truth by truth before veterans groups all over

He should announce this challenge surrounded
by John Kerry, Max Cleland, John Murtha and
any other American heroes who were similarly
attacked and by a fleet of patriotic Democratic
heroes from Bob Kerrey and Wes Clark to John
Glenn and Stan Turner.

He should announce that on his first day in
the Senate he will introduce new omnibus
legislation that will authorize billions of dollars
to do what President Bush, Vice President
Cheney and Senator Lieberman have failed
to do: provide dramatic upgrades in veterans
health care, immediately meet any short term
needs of our troops for armor, bandages,
helmets and anything else with an emergency
appropriations for whatever is needed to get
the job done: and provide dramatic new aid
for homeless veteran heroes and education
and job training grants for troops returning
from combat.

He will announce that he would pay for it,
through a one time excess profits tax on
mega-wealthy oil companies, contracting
firms and others who have made bloated
profits from this war.

He should challenge the good Senator to
return every dollar of campaign contributions
from donors and lobbyists who have been
been the greatest financial beneficiaries of
the war, because especially those who shout
the loudest about World War III, should not make the greatest private
profits from the sacrifice of our troops, then turn around and
recycle those profits to politicians who seek
to profit politically as they do financially.

Thirty debates, man to man, issue by issue,
truth by truth.

Ned Lamont should say: from my first day
in the Senate, I will fight to protect our country,
to defend our homeland, to support our troops
and to honor our vets. I will fight for this, from
the very first day. I will for fight for this, for my
entire term. I will fight for this, harder, truer
and with more passion and commitment than
you have ever shown on matters.

Look him in the eye, and say: Where were you,
Senator, as the guy who wanted this war in
Iraq for a decade, when our troops did not
get enough armor, when wounded were asked
to sometimes pay for their wounds, when 70%
our casualties were preventable? Oh, sure,
some of these matters you whispered in ears,
or made a nice little insert in the Congressional
Record, others you just ignored. But where was the fight, where was the
passion, where was the commitment?

Where were you, Senator, when from 1995
there was concern about liquid bombs on
airplanes, and yet nobody in Washington did
a thing? Now it is your big political issue to
promote fear, but where were you in 1995,
1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002,
2003, 2004, and 2005 when you could have
made the difference, but had more important
things to do?

Why didn't you fight like hell, Senator, to get
our troops the armor, once this war had begun,
since you wanted this war so badly, well
before George Bush was even elected, you
should have been first in line, and fighting
the hardest, to get our troops everything they
need. Where were you?

Was the problem, Senator, that you did not
care enough to fight, or that you simply had
no influence?

Where were you, in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,
2005 and 2006 to protect our ports from our
enemies, and to protect our subways and
transit from the terrorists? These vulnerabilities
continue to this day, to this hour. Where were
you then? Where are you now? Why haven't
you been fighting for this, day after day, week
after week, since September 11?

Senator, its not to enough to enter high toned
words into the Congressional Record, or grand
comments in your newsletters, or make these
issues when you return to Connecticut seeking
our votes. This is about making this a fight,
for our troops, for our vets, to close gaps in
our domestic security, every day of every year.
Its not enough to talk about it, dance around
it, or use it for your reelection. Where was
the passion, the commitment, the diligence,
the follow through?

Why don't you tell your supporters, Senator,
to stop insulting voters by calling my ancestors communist, and start
fighting every day, the way I will fight every day from the moment I
walk on the Senate Floor, for the things that matter?

And Senator, with all due respect, you have
a very different view of bipartisanship, than I.
When the only president in American history
who uses war to attack the patriotism of war heroes from the Loyal
Opposition, you should have been strong, and clear, and honest in
attacking this divisive and demeaning style of politics, Where were

In my bipartisanship, Senator, we respect each
other, we honor each others patriotism, we
debate our differences with dignity, and we
never, never, never slander war heroes
because they are political opponents in
either party and we always, always, always
stand for honor and truth and respect in our
democracy. That is my bipartisanship, Senator,
and it would be a better world if you would
stand with me, for that, rather than parroting
those same demeaning lines of attack.

In my bipartisanship Senator, when our troops
need armor we work together to get it. In my
bipartisan when our airports need screeners and our ports need
protection and our subways
and rails need defense we work together to do
it. In my bipartisanship Senator, we know that
what the terrorists fear the most is a united
country that stands together, and what the
terrorists like the most is a divided country
with leaders who cannot even agree to
protect our ports and our rails and provide
adequate support for our troops and vets.

30 debates. Head to head. High Noon. Man
to Man. Face to Face. In a great debate that
lays out the issues, That stands up for the
troops. That protects the Homeland. That
supports the vets. That respects the people
and takes the issue to them honestly and
directly and lets the accountabiblity of our
democracy work the way it should.

If Senator Lieberman accepts, the people will
decide, and the truth will out, and Ned Lamont
will win that debate, hands down, again.

If Senator Lieberman refuses to accept the
challenge, the voters of Connecticut will know
who is brave, and who is not, and why.