A New Direction: Sister Joe Souljah
Why is supporting Joe Lieberman more important than winning back the House?
Joe’s base of support lies among Republicans, according to the new Quinnipiac numbers. That means his whole GOTV operation for November will require him to bring Republicans to the polls (assuming no new entrant in the race to replace Schlessinger from the Republican side). This will hurt the three local House races the Democrats are counting on to help them win back the House. And yet, some in the DC Democratic Party are openly supporting Holy Joe, including one who is a senior leader in the DSCC, Mark Pryor. Others are quietly issuing supportive statements for Lamont before taking off like the Road Runner for cover.
This is political malpractice of the highest order. I repeat: why is supporting Joe Lieberman more important than winning back the House? Let’s also not forget the effect of Joe’s GOP GOTV on the governer’s race, where DeStephano needs help against Republican governor Jodi Rell.
The elected official wing of the Party must take away any claim Joe has to being a Democrat, and do so dramatically. Lamont’s numbers among Dems in the Quinnipiac poll must and will rise, even as he broadens his support among independents, as in his approach through his WSJ op-ed yesterday (online subscription required). But this effort also requires active Party involvement: there’s no room for wiggling any longer.
The goal here should be to strip Joe of any scintilla of Democratic credibility from the mind of the most "low information" voter in CT. That means a full party effort to rebrand him from what he’s been able to pretend to be all these years. Eighteen years of branding as a "Democrat" needs to be undone in two and a half months. That takes a coordinated effort, and every wasted day counts. It’s doable, but it requires unified commitment and action.
This is a gut check time for the party: are the people with the D’s after their names Democrats, or will they allow Cheney’s sock puppet to turn what should be a "tsunami" election into an ebb tide? Passive, listless Lamont support must give way to active, aggressive advocacy for the choice of the state’s Democrats.
There’s no way to sell a "New Direction" for America while remaining in any way associated with Sister Joe. Party insiders can’t have it both ways. The decision to make of Joe a smoldering political crater needs to be made and made like yesterday. Lamont has to stay mostly positive, but surrogates need to be brutal. That means us and it means the party establishment. ("Together, we can do better?")
Harry, go ahead and strip him of his seniority. Chuck, go after his donors (Remember what you did to Hackett? Do it now to Joe).
If you make Joe into a martyr, he can’t help but unleash his inner a**hole. He simply can’t help himself. That will drop his numbers. Then he may have to announce he will caucus with the Republicans, breaking his prior (useless, worthless) promise. At the very least, he will be asked the question, which makes his loyalty (or self-serving lack thereof) a campaign issue and a character issue. Fine.
Then we have a nice clean "New Direction" versus "more of the same" election. This can bring the independents back to Ned, because the more Joe does his insufferable martyr routine, the more people abandon him. The more he campaigns, the more he drives up his own negatives.
Once it’s clear to all he’s bleeding support in the polls, the hard core conservatives themselves will begin go after Joe because he’s not really a "conservative." Tribal dynamics will resurface. Once they see him losing general campaign support, his new friends will leech away. He’s only attractive to them as a Trojan Horse candidate anyway, so once he loses his disguise, he will lose popularity and enthusiasm on the right.
In 1992, Bill Clinton effectively rebranded the Democratic Party away from its base by dissing Sister Souljah. Well, maybe the sclerotic base needed it, maybe the times required it, but these are new times. A genuine "New Direction" requires a foil, and Joe is it. It’s time to "Sister Souljah" Joe and come home to the majority of Americans who want a real wave of accountability in Washington and against Bush. Joe is the anti-change candidate, and Lamont is the change candidate. It’s that simple.
Harry, Chuck, Nancy, Rahm: it’s time to get on board, for real. For extra credit, give Sister Joe a wedgie: ask him publicly if he supports the federal judge’s ruling that the NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional. C’mon: you won’t believe how fun it is! If he supports the court, his new wingnut friends will abandon him and look for a true authoritarian cultist candidate, instead of mamby pamby faithless Joe. If he comes out against the ruling, you have a true accountability narrative to buttress your "new direction" theme for November. See how easy this is?
Graphic courtesy of annatopia.