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Clueless in Connecticut


Atrios today, in the LA Times:

Much of the interest in this race is not because of Lamont but rather his perceived base of support from bloggers, including me. One prominent pundit claimed that Lamont’s online backers were practitioners of "blogofascism"; another called the campaign an "inquisition." Online political discourse can indeed be caustic and combative, like talk radio. But too many in the Lieberman wing of the party have elevated civility and the illusion of bipartisan comity over challenging Republicans’ failed policies. In the process, they have echoed GOP jargon in dismissing critics as "angry" and "hate-filled."

Politics is a contact sport. Those who would paper it over with a veneer of false propriety are pretending it’s something that it is not. More than that, loud and raucous debate is a healthy part of our democracy.

Lieberman’s problem isn’t bloggers, it’s the voters of Connecticut, who seem to be increasingly tired of his support for some very uncivil policies, including federal intervention into the Terri Schiavo case, the administration’s operations at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and, yes, that disastrous invasion of Iraq.

The lazy narrative that lazy minds like Lanny Davis (not to mention Holy Joe himself) keep feeding into is that the primary challenge to Lieberman (yes, that is what it is, you’d think it was the Spanish Fucking Inquisition) is blogger-based.  Bloggers play no small part in raising this boil to the media surface, but local political activist Myrna Watanabe wrote a letter in 2005 that aptly illustrates Atrios’ point with regard to the local landscape:

One town committee chair told me that Lieberman’s people asked him to fill a room with people for a visit by Lieberman to take place within a few hours of the request. The town chair said something very rude to Lieberman’s staffer, and asked that that message be given directly to the senator. So Lieberman appeared with only one elected Democratic official at his side. (It was in my district. They didn’t call me and ask me to bring out the troops—as I tried to do for Dodd–but they know better than to send me anything but blank emails.)

These negative feelings toward Lieberman have been growing for several years. The war in Iraq, of course, has been a major polarizing factor. During the buildup to the vote on the war, Lieberman was unreachable for discussion. The anti-war groups, including, found it impossible to meet with him (not that Dodd was much more reachable, but Dodd’s office was, at least, accommodating and was willing to share his conflicted thoughts about the impending war vote with us).

By the time Lieberman’s people attempted to contact Democratic town committees for support for his run for president, his people were on the receiving end of quite a bit of hostility from the committees. I told his people outright to stay away from us: we weren’t interested. And I was not alone.

When rumors hit the streets that Lieberman was possibly up for a Bush cabinet position, many of us had had enough–and that predates the Rice, Gonzales, and Chertoff votes. I asked at our State Committee meeting if we could have a vote on the sense of the State Committee to tell Lieberman exactly how we felt about him taking a position with the Bushies. Our then state chair, George Jepsen, discouraged us from doing that, but another state committee member urged that we call Lieberman’s office to voice our displeasure, and Jepsen agreed.

Meanwhile, some people who are considering running for office–from town selectman on up to statewide office–are privately voicing concern about making a run with Lieberman at the top of the ticket. Although our voters tend not to vote straight party line (despite our endless statements that they undoubtedly will), there is a concern that voters will see anyone on the Democratic ticket as painted with the Lieberman brush. Now, with the Quinnipiac poll showing positive figures for Lieberman in the comfortable high 60s, one would ask why should that matter? Yet I can tell you that three years ago, when I was distributing flyers that had a local candidate posed with Lieberman (something we can’t do anymore because of campaign finance laws), people came up to me, pointed to Lieberman’s photo, and said, "If he’s with your candidate, I can’t vote for your person." If I were in Lieberman’s shoes, I wouldn’t get too comfy with the poll numbers because they do not detect the undercurrent of dislike and mistrust.

Those prophetic words were written in April 2005.  Lieberman didn’t listen then, and he’s not listening now.  I’ll take Atrios’ point one step further — not only does Joe have a Connecticut problem, he’s in denial that he has a problem at all.   It’s all those Damn Bloggers, and of course the diabolical Ned Lamont, an evil Snidely Whiplash who will stop at nothing to tie Fair Joe to the railroad tracks in the path of an oncoming train.

Hillsman has some fun with Joe’s Connecticut problem in Ned’s new ad (above).  Joe — and, presumably, Lanny Davis — won’t get the joke. 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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