Looking at the Connecticut Senate race, it seems to me that the one thing that Lieberman undoubtedly has over Lamont is his seniority in the Senate. All things being equal, a Lamont win should have a slightly negative impact for the people of Connecticut, since replacing a Senator with as much clout as Lieberman would mean state interests would be in the hands of a junior Senator. That’s the theory anyways, but the most damaging exchange from yesterdays debate, as David Sirota notes, highlighted just how little Lieberman has done to represent the people of Connecticut.
I want to say I believe the most damning line of the whole debate came not when Lieberman lied, but when Ned got him on the defensive with the facts and Lieberman refused to give a straight answer about why Connecticut is 49 out of 50 in its rate of federal investment. He said that’s because Connecticut is a wealthy state – and then refused to answer why when he was first elected Connecticut used to get 88 cents back for every dollar it sent to Washington, and now it gets just 66 cents back. Apparently, Lieberman hasn’t been to places like Bridgeport or New Haven in a while. If he had been, he would understand just how out-of-touch it is for him to dismiss his failure to deliver as totally acceptable because he thinks everyone in Connecticut is rolling in cash.
Think about that for a minute. The beltway chattering classes are in love with Joe Lieberman. The Democratic Party insiders are close enough that even after the Lieberman campaign’s string of anti-Democrat insults, they still refuse to completely throw Joe under the bus. The Republican party has more respect for Lieberman than their own Senate candidate. At a glance, it seems that Joe Lieberman is one of the most powerful Democrats in the country, yet despite all the praise he gets in Washington, the people of Connecticut are getting less than they were before Joe came to town.
One of the big myths about the CT Senate race (which has been milked for all it’s worth by the Lieberman campaign) is that lefty bloggers hate, hate, hate Holy Joe. Even now, after all of the things Lieberman has said and done to undermine his party, I still wouldn’t characterize my feelings towards him as anger. I can’t speak for all of my fellow bloggers, but I have little doubt that Joe Lieberman is a decent person. He’s like an old friend or a roommate that keeps making the same stupid mistakes over and over and over again. Being a dummy doesn’t make you a bad guy and I’m willing to concede that Joe’s probably sincere in his mushy approach to politics, but watching him can be so…
Contrary to what Lieberman supporters would have you think, questioning Joe’s ability isn’t an ad hominem attack. Joe Lieberman has in some respects been a reliable Democrat, but politics is about a lot more than just your voting record. When you’re picking somebody to represent your interests and values in Washington, political judgement is as important a factor as any to watch and it’s that measure by which Lieberman has repeatedly failed.
Much has been written about Lieberman’s fetishization of “bipartisanship”, but the problem isn’t his willingness to work both both sides of the aisle, but the way that he’s chosen to do it. Rather than be a true centrist with a mixed record, Joe Lieberman tends to vote Democratic, but lend his voice of support to every bullshit right-wing meme that comes down the pike. For Dems, it makes Joe look like a back-stabbing fool and for Republicans it makes him look like somebody who’s not willing to back up his words in the halls of Congress. Either way, Joe Lieberman’s bizarre notion of what constitutes “bipartisan” just doesn’t work. At least, it hasn’t worked for the people of Connecticut.