Who Loves You, Joe?
guest post by Taylor Marsh
The answer is Republicans. Joe should thank his blue crossed stars, because don’t look now, but something big is happening and it’s not good. Hey, but at least he still has his GOP donors, including defense contractors. And, you know, I’m all for spending good money on important weapons systems, but especially money on our troops, their equipment and veterans benefits when they come home, but I and most others in the reality based community draw the line long before we get to Star Wars. I know Joe’s a member of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, but come on. Now, let’s look back.
As the junior Senator from Connecticut he has been one of the most successful purveyors of military pork in the Congress. "Lieberman went to bat for the troubled F-22 combat aircraft – which at a cost of $200 million per copy is the most expensive fighter plane ever built – largely because the engines for the plane are built by a Connecticut-based contractor, the Pratt and Whitney unit of United Technologies," notes Hartung. "He was also one of the first Senate Democrats to join Thad Cochran and Trent Lott in supporting a costly and unworkable National Missile Defense scheme."
Lieberman’s efforts on behalf of the weapons industry have not gone unrewarded. According to Federal Election Committee data processed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Lieberman has received over $96,000 in contributions from defense companies and their employees in the current election cycle. His second largest contributor overall — with $33,000 in total contributions — has been Connecticut-based arms maker United Technologies.
When he first came to the Senate, Lieberman received the support of Peace PAC, the political action committee of the pro-arms control Council for a Livable World. In his first year in office, Lieberman scored a 100% arms control voting record by CLW’s assessment, but by the mid-1990s his rating had plunged to less than 25%, in large part due to his staunch support for the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict, his uncritical support for costly Cold War weapons systems, and his enthusiastic embrace of Republican-inspired missile defense schemes.
"Schemes," I especially like that description, because that’s exactly what it is. Sure, they finally had one success recently, but Joe was behind it when it was still the Republicans’ biggest fantasy. It’s also the first thing the wingnuts started cackling about recently when North Korea lit off their limp firecracker. Honest to God, these guys are just a bunch of scaredy cats.
However, what Matt Stoller lays down today cuts even closer to the bone for Joe. His assessment is simple. The Lieberman camp could be in meltdown mode.
I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I’m beginning to wonder if the Lieberman campaign is in full collapse. The fiasco today, where it took hours for the campaign to say that he would not run as a Republican even as he’s competing in a Democratic primary, suggests as much. If a campaign staff is so out of the loop on such a critical matter as whether he will run as a Republican, it means that the campaign is floundering badly. First of all, moves like this utterly destroy political goodwill among influentials who turn people out in primaries. If I were a local town committee member or a union official and I had endorsed Lieberman, I would NEVER stick my neck out to help this campaign. Imagine, you offer to crowd-build or do GOTV, and then all of a sudden the candidate implies, for six or seven hours or so, that he might run as a Republican, and you have to explain this to the ardent Democrats you just asked for help who are already skeptical of this man’s loyalties. That is incredibly damaging to the credibility of local officials, and a very strong incentive to sit on one’s hands. My guess is that moves like this are causing a lot of Lieberman’s supporters to become "supporters" in air quotes. …
As Stoller reminds us all, Joe said he’d "die a Democrat." For all we know he was talking politically. Because his campaign sure shows all the signs of mortality. Here’s more, but read the whole piece.
If Lieberman is operating with an extreme top-down and paranoid leadership structure where he is calling the shots, it means that he has forgotten how to be a candidate, and that he is not letting his staff actually manage a campaign. Lieberman now has no choice but to rely on massive TV advertising, mail, robocalls, professional phone-banking, and paid canvassers. Those are the only tools controlled by spreadsheets, and the only tools that allow someone like Lieberman a perception of total control over his future. They are also the political tools with which he and his consultants feel most comfortable.
I wonder whether the ability to use these tools and flood the airwaves and mailboxes with propaganda will work in a low turnout primary where a strongly liberal wind is blowing against him. If they work, it says something about how powerful broadcast top-down forces still are, and how money still does trump all. If they don’t, it shows that there really is a new political age dawning. …
Sure, it’s hard to believe Joe Lieberman would ever run as an out and out Republican. But you’ve got to wonder why it took seven hours to answer the will you run as a Republican question. Sounds like a lousy chain of command to me, but I don’t run campaigns. Or, just maybe… What else could it be?
graphic via Jesus’ General