I'm in Connecticut right now where the ground war between the campaigns of Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman grows ever more contentious. There is a general sense that Lieberman is getting desperate but the money he has to spend is formidable, and Lamont will have to compensate by inspiring his followers to action.
. Anything But Substance: Lieberman merde-flinger and campaign manager Sean Smith (who in the past has acknowledged Lieberman was out of touch with Connecticut voters and spent too much time in Washington, DC to be aware of local radio shows) desperately tried to distract from the real issues in a debate against Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan, who says Lieberman's new "Kiss My Ring" party is a vanity party no different than vanity license plates. Watch Swan get pissed at the smug lies: "The last candidate who tried these cheap political gimicks was John Rowland." (If you don't know who Rowland was, here you go.) If Lamont actually wins this race, most folks will credit the "W" to Swan. Watch him on the YouTube above (thanks to Scarce).
. Desperation: The New York Times has a portrait of Lieberman up that makes him look like such a sad, desperate loser you almost feel sorry for him. That Judas kiss? Killing him. Then his colleagues come out and start patting his hand and calling him a "great man" and talking about what delicate flower he is:
Friends say his predicament has left Mr. Lieberman nervous, dispirited and angry, a portrait of a politician stunned to face opponents as passionate in their loathing of his principles as he is proud of them....Mr. Lieberman's allies discuss him these days with a tinge of sadness, as if mourning a kindly gentleman who has wandered into a bad neighborhood.
This is the man who told rape victims to take a hike. Have they actually read any of his campaign literature? Honestly the bubble these people live in is staggaring. (And BTW, you'd think people in leadership positions would be too ashamed to cop to this wimp-o-rama.) As Greg Sargent notes, "It even quotes Lieberman blaming his staff for one of his political screw-ups." It's a pity festival, that's for sure.
. Meanwhile, the local press shows that they are light years ahead of their national counterparts when it comes to covering this race. While the NYT clutches pearls, David Lightman of the Courant dismantles Holy Joe's claims about his progressive voting record:
By the numbers, Joe Lieberman is a true, consistent Democrat.
He votes with Democratic colleagues almost all the time. His record gets him high marks from interest groups close to the party, from the AFL-CIO to the NAACP.
But dig beneath the votes and there's plenty of ammunition for critics - including primary challenger Ned Lamont - who say Lieberman has a habit of straying from the party when it suits him.
He broke with the region's Democratic senators on a key energy vote last year. He has embraced a position on Iraq that few Democrats share. He has questioned bedrock Democrat-backed programs such as affirmative action and Social Security. He voted against a filibuster that could have blocked the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
And just this week the senator launched his own political party so he can still run in November even if Democratic voters rebuff him in the Aug. 8 primary.
Holy Joe offers up some "courage of my convictions" blather but it's less than convincing. He votes with his own party when it doesn't matter, and sides with the GOP to savage progressive causes when it does and the scorecards he quotes do not reflect this obvious fact. Kudos to Lightman for highlighting that.
. CEOs For Lieberman: The Journal-Inquirer recently had a good article about how Lieberman tried to fob off bundled contributions from defense industry contractor employees as "individual contributions" in a fundraising letter to his supporters. The military industrial complex certainly knows how to get it's money's worth, doesn't it?
It should be interesting to watch the arrival of Maxine Waters when she comes to town to stump for Lamont, who was very warmly received in a local African-American church last night. Lieberman, on the other, hand, has alienated African-American voters of Connecticut who claim they haven't seen him for 18 years, and his acceptance of contributions from Choicepoint (the firm that worked hand-in-hand with Katherine Harris to purge African American voters from the Florida voter rolls in 2000) is probably going to speak much louder than any of his claims to have participated in civil rights marches in the 60s that his supporters keep echoing.
. Raphael J. Sonenshein, writing in the Jewish World Journal, has one of the more insightful articles about Lieberman's complicity with the Bushies you are likely to read:
The Bush-Cheney team reviles Democrats of all stripes, whether left, right or center. Bush, however, has a long history of picking out and cultivating individual Democrats, like a wolf culling a weak sheep from the safety of the flock. That way, no concessions need to be made to Democrats, generally, while the impression of bipartisanship remains.
On Medicare, Bush played on Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass.) ego to get the reform ball rolling, and then cut him out of the negotiations over the final Republican bill. For a while, the tame Democrat was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, until he began to look like a nut case.
And now, the best catch of all has been the eyes-wide-shut Lieberman who, unlike the others, has built a career out of being the wise and thoughtful centrist revered by the media talking heads.
Lieberman seems to be genuinely baffled and indeed petulant that his fellow Democrats won't let him have it both ways: To say he is a strong Democrat with a largely progressive record and to work hand-in-glove with the White House to denigrate his own long-suffering and battered party.
Well worth the click through, the article concludes "this is really about the consequences of Lieberman wanting to have his cake and eat it, too."
. Spreading the Misery: The Journal Inquirer also has a good piece up about how Lieberman has put Chris Dodd's nuts in a vise with his sad desperation:
If Lamont wins by a small margin, Dodd may not feel pressured to speak out much in the race. But if Lamont wins by a healthy margin, Dodd may be asked to support Lamont.
Pelto added that Connecticut's Democratic candidates for U.S. House also may not appreciate Lieberman waging an independent campaign and drawing voters' gaze off the Democratic line in the voting booth.
I've said it before but I'll say it again -- the Dems running for Congress are extremely angry and Holy Joe's Cut-and-Run campaign. I wrote about it here, but it bears repeating: Joe's selfishness puts three hotly contested Congressional seats at risk, and threatens Democratic control of Congress in November.
. Millionaire Joe plays the class card: Desperate to keep the focus off his record, Lieberman has been trying to switch attention over to Ned Lamont's personal finances. So Joe Conason quite fairly asks -- why won't Lieberman release client list of his pharmaceutical lobbyist wife Hadassah? It's especially relevant in light of Joe's big bucks donations from Big Pharma and his enthusiastic support of regressive drug legislation that hurts consumers, especially old people. It's also notable that Hadassah's firm, Hill and Knowlton, are the ones who completely fabricated the story about Iraqi soldiers snatching babies out of incubators and killing them during the first Gulf War. That's some high moral ground.
. Lieberman's college roomate writes a letter to the LA Times, saying he no longer thinks Joe is worthy of support.
. Battle of the Yard Signs: Lieberman is definitely losing. Overheard at an event recently, "If this boils down to a competition over the most lawn signs, it'll be Ned vs. Coldwelll Banker."
Jane Hamsher will be covering the Lamont/Lieberman race daily at firedoglake.com