Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Shadow Republican

Let's talk about Joe Lieberman. (Hell, everybody else is doing it. Why shouldn't I?)

Let’s be clear on what we have here. Joe Lieberman, a man who once said, while talking about the 2004 elections, "Senator Kerry got a lot of votes, 56 million votes, more than any Democratic candidate for president in history, but there's no prizes for second place in American politics."

Suddenly, because he doesn’t like how things turned out, that idea is out the window. Where he once wanted people to accept the results of an election, now he wants to ignore it completely. He wants to be handed the prize for coming in second.

Well, I’m sorry, Joe, but look at the bigger picture. The polling group Zogby International asked around, and discovered that almost four out of five Democrats are happy to see you go. I'm sorry if you don't like those numbers, Joe, but that's reality.

It's fascinating that most of Lieberman's support right now is coming, not from Democrats, but from Republicans. People like Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, White House press secretary Tony Snow and Vice President Dick Cheney are all making statements about Lieberman's defeat being a great national tragedy. In fact, Karl Rove apparently called Joe to say "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."

Or, to be fair, maybe he didn't say it. The White House denied it almost immediately, so there's really no proof either way. (On the third hand, there's an old joke: "How can you tell when insert politician here is lying? His lips are moving.")

(I'm going to indulge in a little speculation at this point, though. Consider the GOP's love of Lieberman. And then consider that we now have evidence that the White House was pressuring the British to arrest their liquid-explosive-laden terror suspects right away. Is it beyond belief that the Administration wanted the arrests to occur before the Connecticut primary? And in resisting the pressure, the British police actually threw off Karl Rove's timetable, and the arrests happened a few too days late to help out their boy Joe? Like I said, speculation. But not hard to believe, when you think about this White House's record.)

You know who's getting ignored in all this? A guy named Alan Schlesinger. He's the actual Republican running against Ned Lamont in Connecticut. A man who's pretty much ignored by his party right about now. It must suck to be him, huh?

So why would the Republicans want to support a Democratic... oh, sorry, an Independent candidate? Well, that one's easy. First, they see him as a Democrat who supports Republican ideals. (An attitude that begs the question, "What do you call someone who firmly supports the major points of the Republican party?" Answer - a Republican.)

Secondly, they see the possibility of Lieberman acting as a spoiler in the Connecticut Senate race. Every vote for Lieberman is a vote that didn't go to Lamont. And that thought must make Karl Rove wet himself with pleasure every time he thinks about it.

But why would Lieberman want to do that? Could it be that he's just following the orders given to him by the White House? Or is it something a little more basic?

I like the theory that it's simple human nature on Lieberman's part. He likes to claim that he's one of the "common people," but he's more of a child of privilege. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut, which isn't exactly Compton or South Philly. And he went to Yale, not the local community college.

Every time anybody mentions Ned Lamont, they like to add the adjective "millionaire" in front of his name, in the same place that the word "Senator" gets place in front of Lieberman. But that ignores the fact that Joe Lieberman, in his 2003 financial disclosure form, showed that he had a net worth of somewhere between $482,000 to $1.8 million. The man isn't exactly worrying about whether he can make the rent this month.

That's how I see it. Joe Lieberman thinks that he deserves to be a Senator. It's his right. He feels that he was elected three times, so he's entitled to the job now. He earned it. This attitude, of course, ignores the fact that he wasn't elected this time, but Joe isn't paying attention to that little fact now. He's like a sulky two-year-old - if reality doesn't fit with what he wants, that reality must be wrong.

That's a strangely Republican viewpoint, really. Does anybody recall Ron Suskind's little tale about his meeting with a senior Bush advisor?
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community... That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities"
So take it as you will. Some people prefer the idea that Joe is a puppet, acting out the bidding of his Republican masters. I prefer the idea that Joe is an elitist, unwilling to admit that he doesn't deserve to be in the job, even though the Democrats of Connecticut voted to replace him. Because obviously, the Connecticut Democrats aren't smartest voters in the world, or they wouldn't have voted to have him removed.

Or as Stephen Colbert put it, "Ned Lamont may have won the primary but his supporters are not mainstream Democrats. They’re against the Iraq war. A position so extreme that only 86% of Democrats agree with him" (It's possible that statistic is correct. It's possible that Stephen made it up. But it feels right, doesn't it?)

It's time for Joe to admit the truth, though. He needs to just take his ball and go home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know the name of the republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut and I don't care, but he's got to be thinking he's being abandoned by his party. New republican motto: "Come on in, but we might eat you".