Update: WaPo has a very good article up about Ned. And as Georgia10 reminds us, while Ned is taking no money from DC lobbyists, Lieberman has GOP lobbyists throwing fundraisers for him. You can contribute to Ned here.
There’s a very good interview with Ned Lamont over at Truthdig by Blair Golson, who met Ned at the party thrown by Arianna and Norman Lear for Markos and Jerome. As Golson says, "When Lamont was introduced as Lieberman’s challenger, more than one person in the room shouted obscenities at the mention of the senator’s name." ‘S true.
Much of the attention in the race focuses on how singularly repellant everything about Joe Lieberman is, something I am quite often guilty of — and as a result the things that Ned stands for, all the reasons he would make a superb senator, become obscured. I like this interview because it really focuses on Ned, and why he is worth believing in:
The excitement around your candidacy has been fueled in large part by bloggers, much the same way as was Howard Dean’s presidential run. How has that dynamic affected your efforts?
I’m very appreciative of the blogs. I’m coming at this race as a bit of an outsider, with not high name recognition, and who cares passionately about the issues, but when I talk to the mainstream media, it’s all about process and money and delegates. It was the blogs who said, “Hey, there are compelling issues out there, and let’s see how Lamont stands.” Whatever the blogs’ reputation, they opened the door to more serious discourse than the mainstream media did.
What were those issues that prompted your run?
It was three unrelated incidents. The Terri Schiavo case: I thought the federal government was intruding on our private lives in a way that the founding fathers never anticipated. Sen. Lieberman said the federal government has to intervene in a case of life and death like that.
Two, the bridge to nowhere: It was symptomatic of a government not serious about transportation or the environment; it was a government run by lobbyists and a bunch of career politicians who weren’t speaking out. And the five or six thousand earmarks [in the budget] were symptomatic of a government process gone awry.
Thirdly, when Jack Murtha stood up: We finally we had a Democrat who was so well regarded in the military saying that staying the course is not a winning strategy in Iraq–and it was Sen. Lieberman who took the Republican talking points and said that these critics were undercutting the credibility of the president. And then when [Lieberman] wrote that piece in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Our Troops Must Stay,” that was a defining moment for me.
Do you suspect Iran is making a nuclear bomb?
I suspect they are making a bomb, just like India and Pakistan have. It’s a source of great nationalist pride. I think they’re a little paranoid. They see Afghanistan on one side of them and Iraq on the other side of them, and a [U.S.] president who is talking about an Axis of Evil. Maybe they are worried. I certainly read all of [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad’s evil rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map, so I think there’s a whole variety of motivations for them to get the bomb.
Do you think it’s inevitable that they’ll get the bomb, and should the U.S. base its diplomacy on that assumption?
No, on the contrary, we should work diplomatically and aggressively to give them reasons why they don’t need to build a bomb, to give them incentives.
How would that work?
We have to engage in very aggressive diplomacy. I’d like to bring in allies when we can. I’d like to use carrots as well as sticks—to see if we can change the nature of the debate.
Iran has a large middle class; they’re dependent on the sale of energy products to China; they want to engage more with Western Europe; they have a longstanding relationship with Russia, so there are levers we can use with people who have real leverage with Iran.
We have so many different ways we can engage them, and all this saber rattling and “Axis of Evil” rhetoric is playing into the hands of the nationalists and the extremists in Iran.
We can’t take diplomacy off the table. But Lieberman is the one who keeps talking about keeping the military option on the table.
Where else do you differ with Lieberman?
One of the crucial issues confronting our country is energy independence, and its corollary: global warming and the environment. I thought after 9/11 we had a real unique opportunity to deal with those twin issues in a serious way. Instead the president invited the lobbyists to Dick Cheney’s office and we ended up with the energy bill that gave away tens of millions in subsidies to the oil producers, very little for energy conservation and efficiency–and Sen. Lieberman supported that bill. Between Iran and that energy bill, that’s two big reasons you’ve got gas at over $3 a gallon now.
What should be the broad themes that govern our approach to guarding against future domestic terrorist attacks?
We’re a much stronger country when we work in concert with our neighbors and allies and deal with the rest of the world with respect. We’re a much stronger country when we hold true to our values and our heritage, when our moral authority isn’t compromised. I think there is a battle of ideas, and we have to be true to what we stand for.
I think when it comes to the nature of our defense in our own homeland, I think we should follow the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. We should look at where we’re vulnerable, we should pay more attention to our first responders, pay more attention to our ports, and to our major energy facilities–starting with our nuclear power plants.
Ned Lamont is more than just "not Lieberman." He has a solid progressive platform, he’s extremely well-informed and he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists. Read the rest of the article, I think you’ll be impressed.
And you can contribute to Ned’s campaign here.