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GUEST COMMENTARY: BAYHAM ON POLITICS: Under the Bus with Joe Lieberman

Posted by kinchendavid on August 9, 2006

By Mike Bayham


South Louisiana   Things were very different for Joe Lieberman six years ago.

 Back then, the charisma-challenged Connecticut pol was hailed as the savior of his party’s presidential election hopes by energizing Al Gore’s then flagging bid for the White House.   A few months later, he came within a few hundred votes in Florida from becoming Vice-President.

 As the legend goes, a supposedly “confusing” ballot designed by local Democrats tricked a number of elderly Democrats into voting for the Reform Party tandem and thus cost the Democratic ticket the election.  

 It’s been downhill for Mr. Excitement ever since, though his latest setbacks had nothing to do with Palm Beach County Jewish Buchanan voters.

The fresh sets of tire tread marks on his suit come courtesy of his own party.


Lieberman led in the early polls for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, yet he failed to take advantage of the favorable numbers by holding off on assembling together a campaign out of deference to Gore, who dillydallied on another presidential campaign until the last minute.

The ex-Vice-President repaid Lieberman’s show of respect by throwing him under Howard Dean’s VW van.  

 Gore’s perfidy combined with Lieberman’s unwise decision to sit out the Iowa caucuses resulted in an embarrassing fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary with 8.5%, effectively ending his presidential campaign and marking the beginning of the end of his status as a major party figure.

 Fast-forward to Aug. 8, 2006, an evening that should have been a routine renomination celebration en route to an easy re-election in November that turned out to be his last day as a regular Democratic politician.

 Despite fighting the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and being a reliable pro-abortion vote in the U.S. Senate, Lieberman was targeted for his steadfast support for Israel and refusal offer blanket condemnations of President Bush’s Iraq policies, ultimately falling victim to a wing of his own party that is not just becoming more radical with every passing year, but more dominant in Democratic politics.

 By a margin of four points, the Michael Moore-faction of the Democratic Party bagged their biggest political trophy yet taking down Lieberman through their proxy, cable television executive Ned Lamont, sending a signal to other national Democrats who have shunned dipping their glasses in their bowl of anti-Iraq War Kool-Aid that they could be next.

But the consequences of this historic intra-party fight could go even further.

Just as centrist Democratic congressmen might be revisiting their positions on the Bush Doctrine after Lieberman’s defeat, many longtime Democratic voters are reevaluating their place in the party.

Lieberman is the nation’s most prominent Jewish politician and his humiliation at the hands of the MoveOn.org crowd won’t play well in many corners of a community that traditionally gives over 80% of their support to the Democratic Party. 

Further turning off Jewish voters is the anti-Semitic tone of a number of Lamont backers, which went without reprimand from their champion, as indexed by Bill Clinton’s lawyer and Lieberman friend Lanny Davis in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that ran the day of the US Senate primary.  

 Lieberman was not oblivious to the new reality in his party’s political landscape and began the process of collecting signatures to petition his way on to the general election ballot as an independent in advance of an increasingly competitive primary.  

Some in Democratic circles claimed this preemptive move was going to cost him votes, and it may very well have been the margin in the contest.  But then again, Lamont should have never polled anywhere close to Lieberman.

 

Not long after conceding defeat, Lieberman declared his intentions to follow through with an independent candidacy to keep his US Senate seat this November, which will no doubt impact the other tight congressional races in Connecticut.  

After the slew of indignities Lieberman has been subjected to by Democratic politicians and allied interest groups, the DNC should not hold their breath that he will quietly depart from the political stage in deference to the nominee.  Joe’s been down the Al Gore expressway already.

 Ironically, Lieberman’s re-election prospects will be heavily influenced by whether Republican voters do to their long shot nominee, Alan Schlesinger, what the Democrats have been doing to hawkish US Senator since 2004, that is, throwing their own man under the bus.

 

Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana and can be contacted at MikeBayham@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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