07/17/2006 12:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

An Open Letter to Joe Lieberman On "Hate Speech"

Dear Senator:

Your supporters have called me a "liar," a "fascist," a "Stalinist," and a "weirdo." One of your top team members has called me both a "bad Jew" and an "anti-Semite" - a little irony there! - because I'm one of many Democrats who support your opponent (and happen to be Jewish).

They weren't addressing me personally. These were remarks made about the many people - me included - who have written on the Internet in support of Ned Lamont's candidacy. While you and your allies complain about the hostile tone of "bloggers," the vitriol from your camp has been harsh and overwhelming.

I am therefore publicly requesting that you ask all your supporters to stop using ugly, hateful language in support of your candidacy.

There is no better way to prove your sincere desire to improve the tone of the discourse than by demanding that John Droney, Lanny Davis, and your other backers stop maligning the character of Democrats like me.

You and your supporters complain about the bad "tone" your opponents are using. It should be noted that none of it is coming from the Lamont campaign, however, although these comments are coming from people directly associated with yours.

I'm sure you wouldn't want to be considered a hypocrite when you say, as you did in the New York Times this weekend, that you're disturbed by the "vituperation" from your opponents. I'm equally sure you don't want to see fellow Democrats and fellow Americans like me insulted, just because they support another candidate in the primary.

I'm also concerned about your emotional state. Some of your associates and friends were interviewed in the Times article, and they described a man in a fragile condition: that these are "down days" for you, and that your "predicament has left (you) nervous, dispirited, and angry ... stunned to face opponents passionate in their loathing of (your) principles ..."

I oppose you in the primary, but genuinely regret your suffering. It might help you cope with your surprise and confusion if you consider the fact that strong opposition from within the party is to be expected. After all, you've been conducting slashing attacks against your fellow Democrats for years.

Many of your opponents remember that you called Bill Clinton's behavior "immoral and harmful" when he lied about sex, yet refused to criticize George Bush for lies that led us into war. In fact, you implied last year that your fellow Democrats were treasonous to criticize the Republican handling of that war.

And you should think back to your slashing attacks against Howard Dean, saying that he's in "a spider hole of denial" for claiming - correctly, as it turned out - that Saddam's capture "wouldn't make us any safer." Many of your fellow Democrats are puzzled by the contrast between these harshness of these remarks and your gentle treatment of Dick Cheney in the 2000 Vice-Presidential debate.

Your opponents also remember your support for the radical religious right during the Terri Schiavo case. That was a hideous attempt to use a family's suffering to gain Republican advantage, and your remarks from the Democratic side of the aisle gave them political cover to do so.

They also remember how Democratic attempts to reign in America's torture policy - which undermines our morals as well as our national security - were undercut by your bitter response (and non sequitur): "Nobody apologized after 9/11."

Then there was your flip-flop on Social Security, when you originally agreed with the Bush Administration - falsely - that there is an imminent financial threat to the program. It's true that you retreated under pressure and changed your position, but Democrats who remember the whole story have watched you dishonestly claim that you "always" supported protecting the SSI system.

And now you're surprised that you have strong opposition from within the Party? I hope these reminders help you put that opposition in context.

Please consider my suggestion that you exercise some leadership by insisting that your supporters elevate the tone of the debate. Bear in mind that I'm a former Connecticut resident and have voted for you in the past. I encourage my friends there to support the Democratic candidate in November, no matter who wins the primary.

It's not too late for you to do the same.


A Fellow Democrat

A Night Light