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August 09, 2006

Lieb's Vicious Cycle

By Ezra

To add to the post-mortems of the day, my guess is that the relationship between Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Party is about to get a whole lot more fraught. Previously, there was a real unwillingness on the part of the party mandarins to go against Joe who, even if he were to run as an independent, would still be bound in the Senate by long ties of friendship and esteem with the Democratic caucus. But now that so many from the caucus have bowed to base pressure and endorsed Ned Lamont -- I'm thinking here of Dodd, Clinton, Feingold, Kerry, Bayh, Kennedy, Schumer, Emmanuel, Reid, and Obama, all of whom have stuck the shiv into Joe -- Lieberman is apt to feel as betrayed by his colleagues as he does by his voters. That radically increases the chance he'll switch parties or leverage his independence against his side which, in turn, radically increases the importance that the party kill off his candidacy and ensure Lamont's election. So Lieberman's in a rough cycle here -- his loss in the primary forced his colleagues to turn on his candidacy which, in turn, forces them to seriously support Lamont lest Lieberman exact revenge.

Crossposted to Tapped

August 9, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

If Democrats controlled any branch of government, this is where he would be given a cabinet position or put on some bipartisan commission to investigate somethingorother.

What lifeboat options do have in the present situation?

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Aug 9, 2006 12:48:19 PM

What's amazing to me is how much of the democratic establishment couldn't see this problem coming. They didn't toss out Zell Miller - and he turned into a wrecking ball in 2004.

Why in gods earth did the democratic leaders try so hard to bail Lieberman out of this mess - without a firm commitment that he'd drop out if he lost the primary?

They supported Lieberman despite his threat to bolt the party. They actively tried to save him even after he dropped behind Lamont in the polls, which is amazing because at that point it was going to be hard to save him. But they tried to: Dodd, Clinton, Boxer, they all tried to bail him out. And without that support it's hard to imagine that Lieberman would have gotten the millions of dollars - he needed to make it close.

And really to do all that - and not get a firm commitment that he'd drop out if he lost the primary. That was unbelievably dumb. Not surprising that this team hasn't won in the last few election cycles.

Anyone want to bet that Rove and team would have gotten a commitment in returns for support?

Now the Democrats need to crank up the mean. Fortunately there are a few ways to do it.
1) Denounce Lieberman's dirty campaign. Some sound and fury would work - and have the added benefit of heading off similar GOP attacks that are coming.
2) Label Lieberman as pro-Bush,
3) Cut off all his assignments.
4) Get Bill Clinton in there now.
etc.

Posted by: Samuel Knight | Aug 9, 2006 1:29:03 PM

Anyone want to bet that Rove and team would have gotten a commitment in returns for support?

Rove and team would have gotten a signed confession of treason in return for support, just in case the commitment was not honored.

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 9, 2006 1:38:43 PM

Yeah, it would be 'nice' if Joe withdrew his independent candidacy, but that is unlikely, even if his DC freinds work on him (including withdrawaling some key committee assignments).

I sort of in the mood to say, let Joe run. The worse that can happen is that he wins and joins the Republicans to organize the Senate - giving the Republicans continued control. That's bad, but then the role of Joe is very junior in the Republican caucus - if he joined it. He won't be speaking to the media as a Bush Democrat.

The upside is that Joe can't get elected in CT this fall, and that the whole DLC/centrist-to-win thing fades away. The Republicans are hyper-partisan, and a less partisan Democratic party won't be attractive to the voters as Republican/Conservative/BushCo lite.

So Joe, Bring It On! (so to speak). The Dems can't afford to have any more Bush love-children.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 9, 2006 2:05:20 PM

..."stuck the shiv"? Are you f@#$in' kidding me? I think the exact opposite is closer to the truth. Lieberman, the self-centrist, has stuck the shiv into the backs of his Democratic Party supporters with his avowed intention to run as an Indy.

Posted by: bamage | Aug 9, 2006 2:14:07 PM

That's bad, but then the role of Joe is very junior in the Republican caucus - if he joined it. He won't be speaking to the media as a Bush Democrat.

Exactly. The GOP is the gold standard of loyalty trumping all else. Anyway, you never trust traiters. You give them perks and candy so long as they are useful, then throw them away when they are not.

Once Joe can't peddle his Fox News Democrat shtick, the Republicans will forget about him.

Even if he manages to somehow pull a win out in November, his career is over. When the Dems and the GOP fail to kiss his butt, when he can't get on Fox News except to be mocked, he'll retire. He simply cannot handle being treated as anything but royalty.

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 9, 2006 2:20:34 PM

Surely Joe didn't expect elected Democrats to endorse an independent run after he lost? I know it's not a parliamentary system, but running against the official candidate is at the very top of the list of "Don'ts" in any party rulebook, official or unofficial.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Aug 9, 2006 2:24:02 PM

The democrats need to treat this the same way they would treat pick-up opportunity for a seat held by a Republican. Stop thinking about this as a seat that one way or another will go to a Democrat. If helps to think of the split as currently being 56-44, that's what they've got to do. This seat is no longer held by a Democrat. That means strip Joe of his committee assignments. Kick him out of the caucus. If he's going to actively campaign against a democratically nominated Democrat, then he's no longer welcome in the Democratic party.

Posted by: Vladi G | Aug 9, 2006 2:32:57 PM

The trouble with the conventional wisdom is that it's conventional.After he gets over the reaction of incumbents everywhere -- "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 take another big pratfall.

Posted by: Madison Guy | Aug 9, 2006 6:24:32 PM

re: But now that so many from the caucus have bowed to base pressure and endorsed Ned Lamont -- I'm thinking here of Dodd, Clinton, Feingold, Kerry, Bayh, Kennedy, Schumer, Emmanuel, Reid, and Obama, all of whom have stuck the shiv into Joe -- Lieberman is apt to feel as betrayed by his colleagues as he does by his voters.

Sorry, but no. I heard Bill Clinton stumping for Lieberman last week, and Clinton clearly stated that he would support the winner of the primary during the general election. Lieberman's Democratic colleagues are supporting the Democratic candidate, the man chosen by the voters of the Deomcratic Party of the state of Connecticut. Certainly Reid and Schumer, in their official capacities, could not back a candidate running against the Democrat.

Posted by: Pen Brynisa | Aug 9, 2006 6:39:28 PM

I gotta add my own "Sadly, No" to all of whom have stuck the shiv into Joe.

LIEberman has been sticking the shiv into the Democratic party for years. He got what he deserved (actually, he deserves a whole lot worse).

Posted by: Jeff | Aug 9, 2006 7:19:57 PM

It seems to me that every time Bush and the Republicans get set to rape the public (as they did with "private accounts"), Joe the non-partisan that he claims to be, steps up to add his voice of moderation by saying that "it will only hurt a little".

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