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August 09, 2006

Helping Joe let go

Mark Schmidt urges the Democratic establishment to offer Joe Lieberman an honorable exit to his doomed independent run. In theory, that might be expeditious. However, I'm not sure what honorable exit remains for Lieberman. He can either run and lose, again, or he can drop out. Nick suggests a cushy think tank job.

It's to everyone's advantage to get Joe out of the race as quickly as possible. If Joe could be lured out with a carrot, so much the better. Still, I doubt that there's anything anyone can offer Joe that will sway him from his kamikaze mission to keep the Democrats from reclaiming the senate.

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Well, there's always SecDef, but that's not ours to offer, and I think Rove is smart enough to keep it off the table until Joe fucks up the general election.

Lieberman's views are way too neoconservative for it to be safe to offer him a job at Defense. After Rumsfeld, the department deserves someone who's at a minimum a realist.

does "professional martyr" pay well?

I guess it'll pay better if he's defeated in the general, too.

I'll be very interested to keep an eye on the contributions he gets over the next couple of weeks. It'll be interesting to see what sort of tangible financial support he gets from organizations and individuals associated with GOP leadership.

I am pulling for Ned, but as norbizness quoted on PAB, the last Quinnipiac poll showed the following general election numbers: Lieberman 51%, Lamont 27%, Schlesinger 9%

He also noted that the poll was within 1% on the primary numbers.

This is still an uphill battle, and we have to remember that Joe is still clearly the favorite.

That poll was taken before the primary, though. The loss was absolutely devastating for Lieberman. He's also lost the support of the Democratic establishment: Schumer and Reid say they fully support Lamont. Even Chris Dodd is refusing to back Holy Joe.

I guess this would be a good argument for an American House of Lords: Joe would get a set of fancy baubles, and the gratification of making pompous speeches to an audience of similar fools; the rest of us would sleep secure knowing he no longer has the power to continue helping others destroy our country. Unfortunately, political parasites like Lieberman never really go away: even if we succeed in prying him from his seat, he'll be back as a lobbyist, a pundit, or the pet Democrat on some Fox "News" program.

If Joe could be lured out with a carrot, so much the better.

So we're giving up on the prospect of driving him out with a stick? I was kind of looking forward to that part.

I'm reading now on Firedoglake that ABC News reports Karl Rove &co. are "reaching out" to the Lieberman team. That brings a little bit more clarity, doesn't it?

Speaking of realism internationally... realism domestically might be useful to those of you in Lamont's corner. Since the Republican in the Connecticut Senate race is all but toast at this point, Lieberman can count on Republicans, independents and about half of Connecticut Democrats in the state to support him. Lamont has... the other 52% of Dems. Not enough to win the general election, regardless of how many Dem endorsers have switched teams.

Your best bet remains to lure him out of the race with a very nice carrot, but as others have suggested, there may be no carrot nice enough to do the trick. Strategically speaking, why should he withdraw, given that he's in a nice position to win the general? About the only thing you can do is somehow convince him that the Democratic Party is better off with him withdrawing and having Lamont in the Senate - a tough sell, given that he's committed to still caucus with the Dems and vote for Reid as majority leader, and like most people, would prefer to have himself rather than someone he disagrees with in that seat. Lamont, I suspect, would have to compromise, modify his positions and platform to make that happen. Which would, of course, defeat the purpose of your efforts.

(Lest anyone think I'm saying this as a fan of Joe, which I'm not, I'd say read this. Or this. I don't envy voters in Connecticut.)

http://letterfromhere.blogspot.com/2006/08/trouble-with-conventional-wisdom-is.html>The trouble with the conventional wisdom is that it's conventional. After he gets over the reaction of incumbents everywhere -- http://letterfromhere.blogspot.com/2006/08/santa-comes-early-for-netroots-as-deer.html>"Oh! Oh! Oh!" -- we can hope that Joe sees that it's really all about generational change. Whether you view it in terms of Kuhn's paradigm change or Dylan's Mister Jones, some players -- and ideas -- are leaving the stage, while others are just starting to play their parts. Joe can accept that and walk off the stage gracefully, or he'll most likely just take another big pratfall.

We've driven him out with a stick: twice. It's losing some of its luster, but the third time should be the charm.

Krarorh, Joe's no longer in a good position to win the general. By losing the primary, he's lost most of the psychological and logistical advantages of incumbency.

He's going into this thing as a loser. He got less than half of the Democratic voters in CT this time around. He's lost the support of his Senate colleagues and the Democratic establishment. Nobody's gonna stump for Joe anymore.

From what I've seen, CT Democrats take their party affiliation very seriously. It's identity politics, just like in Texas. A "D" beside someone's name really means something. True blue CT dems are not going to double-cross the Democratic nominee for a loser like Lieberman.

The unions helped Joe a lot in the primary, but I seriously doubt that big labor is willing to go to bat for Joe now that the Democratic Party has turned against him.

Also, Lieberman's going to have to run to way to the right of Ned in order to make inroads with the Republicans. That's a tough position to be in, because he risks alienating the centrist and liberal Democrats who voted for him the first time around.

Has anyone analyzed the turnout? I had assumed that in the 18 previous years, religion had to be a plus for Lieberman with the support-israel-no-matter-what voters.

I ask because it strikes me that what it means to "support" Israel has become unclear for the following reason: If pigheaded insistence on fighting in Iraq has shown America's limits and fatigue and fallibility then Joe is culpable. If that display of limited power and severely limited judgment has made Hezbollah and its sponsor Iran bold in starting and keeping up the war even when Israel throws everything its got at Shiite Lebanon, then won't voters that support Israel be uncertain about whether the probable net harm currently unfolding for Israel is an unintended consequence of pro-war Lieberman?

I mean, our general disgust with the war is a pie Lieberman squarely deserves to be wearing on his face right now. But more than liberals defeated him. Who of his usual support base switched to Lamont?

Well, look, if you support Lamont, about the best you can do is campaign hard for him. Just know that it's a very tough, bloody fight you have on your hands. Having him withdraw would be about the only way you can avoid it, but Joe has no incentive to do so, since Dems don't have the presidency, and thus, can't offer him any cabinet positions or ambassador-ships. And since he's not like, say, Nixon in 1974, or Gary Hart, or in analogous situation where Party elders convinced someone to ride quietly into the sunset, he has no reason to do so.

I'm not saying it's hopeless for Lamont supporters, or that he can't win - I'm just saying Lieberman's in a very cushy spot right now. Lamont's best bet would be to move to the center, but Lieberman already has the center. That's what being bipartisan gets you. Ask Lincoln Chaffee or Arlin Spector.

I haven't seen any analyses of the turnout yet, but I do know that thousands of registered independents officially joined the Democratic party in order to vote in the primary and that thousands of new voters were added to the rolls in time to vote on Tuesday. The overall turnout was a record for a primary, on par with a presidential election.

I heard various reporters saying that the newbies were expected to break two-to-one for Lamont. The people on the campaign wondered where they were getting this number. I'll be curious to see the real analyses.

I guess this would be a good argument for an American House of Lords: Joe would get a set of fancy baubles, and the gratification of making pompous speeches to an audience of similar fools; the rest of us would sleep secure knowing he no longer has the power to continue helping others destroy our country.

Hmm, that's a good idea; we should take the power of helping others destroy our country away from one of the Houses of Congress, and we'll pretty much have that.

Nothing will lure Lieberman from this race but the prospect of a public humiliation in the election. I have no idea whether that's in the cards or not; this race has already demonstrated that three months in campaign time is an eternity. If Lieberman retains his seat though, it will now be as a de facto Republican, and I think that's a victory in itself: Joe has been the human face of a one-party government masquerading as "bipartisanship", which is precisely the reason so many Republicans are visibly anxious now. There's nothing than frightens them, or SHOULD frighten them more than the prospect of an actual opposition.

I haven't seen any analyses of the turnout yet, but I do know that thousands of registered independents officially joined the Democratic party in order to vote in the primary and that thousands of new voters were added to the rolls in time to vote on Tuesday. The overall turnout was a record for a primary, on par with a presidential election.

I heard various reporters saying that the newbies were expected to break two-to-one for Lamont.

I believe it. As to Kraorh's point, I would think a huge factor would be, how motivated are Republicans to come to the polls just to spite Ned? Someone else here will probably have facts and figures, but I have the impression that if it's between an independent spoiler and a candidate of one of the two major parties, then the voters for the other major party don't necessarily come out of the woodwork to vote that day. ??

Lest anyone think I'm saying this as a fan of Joe, which I'm not, I'd say read this.

It's funny, but I'm sure I'm not the only one around here who has a knee-jerk reaction to the word "bilious"...

Joe has been the human face of a one-party government masquerading as "bipartisanship", which is precisely the reason so many Republicans are visibly anxious now. There's nothing than frightens them, or SHOULD frighten them more than the prospect of an actual opposition.

Hear, hear.

Lindsay,

The poster above posted this breakdown of the vote:
Lieberman 51%, Lamont 27%, Schlesinger 9%. All I'm saying is that if this is what you're polling, I can't see why on earth that'd make you want to withdraw. That be like Rick Perry withdrawing from the race for Texas governor because of Kinky Friedman. (Which, don't get me wrong, would be sweet, but I'm not expecting it.) With those numbers, and the relationship Lieberman's built up with the unions (his traditional base), I don't think they will abandon him so quickly. It's not like he's going to stop voting their way on their issues. He's a known quantity - Lamont may have the "D" next to his name, but you know what they say about the Devil you know.

And actually, I don't think Lieberman will have to run to the right. With Schlesinger toast, he has no need to compete for his supporters, so he can stay put - giving the right the foreign policy issues they want, and giving the center the economic issues they want. Where are the conservatives going to turn, Lamont? At most, he might have to worry about them staying home, but I don't think that will happen, especially if it starts looking like Lamont will win.

As for identity politics, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt there about Connecticut in general. (Though I think you don't give Texas enough credit - two viable independent candidates are running for governor there this year, after all). But Lieberman isn't some newcomer - the power of the incumbancy, and his unequivocal support the Democratic Party, mean voters aren't going to see him as anything other than a Democrat, albeit a centrist.

As a thought experiment, I might ask you to consider what the circumstances would be for any comparable RINO, were they in Lieberman's position. Say, if McCain lost in an Arizona primary, and chose to run as an independent. Consider moreover the Democrat in that race was plagued with scandal and was no longer a viable candidate. Wouldn't you say, given that scenario, that McCain would still be a very good position to win?

Geez, I really need to watch for those typos before I post...

Though I think that's a good thought experiment, and it's hard to find an exact analog, I'd say Lieberman has backstabbed the Democrat voters much more than McCain ever has the Republican voters.

As evidence, I offer Lieberman's subtle rhetoric lately, about "putting the past behind us and working together." Whenever you hear someone say that bullshit, it means "forget what I just did to you!"

Kraorh, I have no doubt the campaign will be nasty, but I don't think Lieberman can win. You're not addressing my arguments about why this loss has crippled Lieberman.

1984, I think the stat sounds plausible, too. I wouldn't expect many Independents to switch to vote for the status quo. It's harder to predict the behavior of newly registered voters. If they signed up spontaneously, I'd expect them to break overwhelmingly for Lamont. On the other hand, I don't know how much each side spent on voter registration efforts. Lieberman had machine politics on his side. When you're the incumbent, you can snap your fingers and have a hundred people show up in Hartford with clipboards... He also had more resources for getting out the vote, which is a HUGE issue among new voters.

Greensmile, I think you're absolutely right about Israel. To be blunt, a lot of his Jewish supporters are thinking twice about extreme hawkishness because of the situation in Lebanon. Many of these people were previously willing to overlook Holy Joe's other conspicuous shortcomings because he was a Democrat who would fight for Israel.

Now, a lot of people are realizing that Lieberman and his ilk aren't helping. As a friend of Israel, the last thing I want is to see the country re-occupying Lebanon.

Friends don't let friends re-occupy.

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