Sore Loserman?

Will Lieberman make his friends look good by withdrawing from the race, or vindicate his critics by staying in? My money’s on the critics, but there’s always hope.

Until now, I haven’t had anything to say on the Lamont-Lieberman race, because I couldn’t find any words that wouldn’t do more harm than good.

I despise Lieberman, and have despised him ever since he sold out Al Gore in the 2000 VP debate. He sat there making himself look like a good guy and thereby missed the opportunity to portray Dick Cheney for the extreme right-winger he has always been. Add to that that Lieberman is the sort of pompous, self-righteous moralizer who give all the other pompous, self-righteous moralizers a bad name, and that he has pretty much played on Team Bush for the last four years. (Remember Lieberman’s stalwart defense of John Kerry against the Swiftboaters? That’s funny. Neither do I.)

On the other hand, he would vote as a Democrat to organize the Senate, and that’s the key vote. Spending money and energy on an intra-party squabble when the major problem is how to count to 51 seemed to me like a tactical mistake.

But now that he’s lost the primary, he has a choice between making his critics look stupid and his friends look smart by backing out gracefully and doing the reverse by staying in. Right now, it looks as if he’s going to embarrass his friends and delight his critics. I’m still hoping that all the national Democrats &#8212 including, in an astonishing act of generosity, Bill Clinton &#8212 who campaigned for Lieberman during the primary will now call in their chits and tell Lieberman that if he runs as an independent he’s someone they used to know.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

23 thoughts on “Sore Loserman?”

  1. From Ed Kilgore a few days back. He sounds pretty sure of this, though I'd never heard anything like it before. (I don't have too much respect for his writing, but I wouldn't think he'd make this up):
    And the stuff about Lieberman "undermining Gore" is really bizarre. I will never forget watching the Lieberman-Cheney debate, and literally scratching the TV screen in frustration that Joe wasn't hammering Cheney on this or that point. But I also knew that this approach was totally scripted by the Gore high command, which erroneously expected Cheney to do his Darth Vadar routine instead of playing the avuncular grandfather. Point B in the "Joe undermines Al" case generally revolves around the small incident during the Florida recount saga when Lieberman disclaimed any intention of challenging overseas military ballots. Again, Joe was totally doing what the Gore campaign told him to do; some of Gore's lawyers dissented from the decision, and later said so, but it wasn't Lieberman's fault. And more importantly, Gore clearly would not have been in the position to lose the election in overtime had Lieberman not been on the ballot; Joe's incredible popularity in South Florida gave the ticket its surprising strength in that state in the first place. Gore's inability to carry his own home state was a much bigger problem than anything Joe Lieberman did or did not do.

  2. Sen. Clinton has already said tonight she supports Lamont in the general election in the fall since he is the Democratic primary winner. Can't get much more direct (and in less time) than that.

  3. Despise? Don't you think that is a bit, shall we say, excessive? Relax pal, he'll still be Senator Lieberman when we Republicans vote him back into office. And you may take that to the bank.

  4. Lieberman now has the rep of being a loser and a sore one at that. Just as Lamont persuaded many independents to go his way, the same will happen in the election. Remember, Lamont didn't look so good in the polls months back but within a short time was able to get the voters to see who Lieberman really was and in doing so he overran Lieberman fast. All he has to do is make the choice clear: a vote for Lamont is for peace and a vote for Lieberman (or any other 'republican') is for more war. Simple, direct and the truth.

  5. Andrew Sullivan is fed up with him, and specifically for two of the three reasons I've become fed up with him: his literally mindless, parrotlike insistence, even now, that the war is going well, and his "Hewittian" (to quote Sully) statement that it's unpatriotic to criticize a president in wartime even if you think his military strategy is leading the country to disaster. Add to that his fervent defense of Bush on the abuse of POWs (a point on which Sullivan doubtless also agrees with me, and on which even Arlen Specter has been much better), and you can see why neither one of us is "shedding any tears" over his political demise. And to think the man was once a Freedom Rider…
    As for iseeyouclearly's certainty that "we Republicans" will be able to vote him back into office: evidently he didn't clearly see the Rasmussen poll a couple of weeks ago showing him and Lamont running dead even in a 3-way race. (And that was before his fellow Congressional Democrats started turning on him late tonight — Hillary and Sen. Bayh have already sworn their allegiance to Lamont.) Support a war in a state whose citizens oppose it by 2 to 1, after all, and you are bound to pay some political price.

  6. All I can say is, poor John Edwards, because if Joe Lieberman did a poor job for Al Gore, what can be said about Edwards? Anyone remember Edwards' "stalwart defense" of Kerry against the Swift Boaters? Neither do I.

  7. It seems likely to me that most of those voting for him did so because of name recognition, or because of his presumed (and comparative) position of power in the Senate. Those folks are not likely to follow him beyond yesterday. He just won't have the same power as an indy. Combine that with the establishment Dems walking away from him and the potential threat of loosing his committee seat sooner instead of later, I think he'll fold in weeks rather than months.

  8. My beef with Lieberman wasn't the 2000 race. I've hated him since long before then. It was just what Mark said: "Lieberman is the sort of pompous, self-righteous moralizer who give all the other pompous, self-righteous moralizers a bad name."

  9. "On the other hand, he would vote as a Democrat to organize the Senate, and that's the key vote."
    Control is of little use if you still lose key substantive and procedural votes on individual important issues because one of your own chooses to actually vote with the GOP.
    It's control in name only.
    Somewhat useful, but hardly a slamdunk reason to have embraced "Loserman".
    The fact that "iseeyouclearly" clearly welcomes voting for Lieberman, rather than their own Republican candidate, pretty much tells you which side of the fence Liberman will really fall on when the going gets tough – just like "the kiss" did.
    Thomas: "Anyone remember Edwards' "stalwart defense" of Kerry against the Swift Boaters? Neither do I."
    Yes, I do.
    Got Alzheimer's, Thomas, or are you just mendacious?
    You have my sympathy either way.
    FYI: "Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, also wanted to take a swipe at the Swifties. Edwards was hardly an attacker in the Dole (or Cheney) tradition of vice presidential hit men; his whole persona and appeal were based on sunny optimism. But as early as Aug. 5, when the Swifties were just getting traction, Edwards wanted to push back, hard. McCain had just told the Associated Press that the Swift Boat ads were "dishonest and dishonorable… the same kind of deal that was pulled on me." Edwards wanted to begin a speech, "I join with Senator McCain in calling on the president to condemn this dishonest and dishonorable ad." But Kerry headquarters said no. Stephanie Cutter, the boss of the Kerry communications shop, explained that the campaign didn't need to give the Swift Boat vets any more attention than they were already getting."

  10. Mark: now you know how I feel, wanting to take a shower after having to root for the likes of certain GOP nominees who I dislike (too many to list) but who will keep control of congress away from you crazies. And I know you've gone over the edge with your dislike of Bush and Cheney but blaming Lieberman for Gore losing? If going after Cheney in a debate was the critical factor, how do you explain Kerry losing after Edwards did just that in his debate with Cheney? And nobody who was influenced by the swifties charges against kerry would have been mollified had lieberman jumped to kerry's defense. And, notwithstanding that, just how was lieberman to help kerry? he wasn't there, he didn't serve in vietnam… so what was he supposed to say?
    Taking out y'alls frustrations on lieberman is silly. you really think bush only invaded iraq because lieberman was on board? yes, you guys are pissed off about iraq, but everything that has happened there would have taken place even if lieberman had never been born. and if you think that electing lamont is going to bring the troops home any earlier than the end of bush's term in office, then you guys are truly loony. even with 100 democratic senators, bush ain't bringing the troops home before 'the job is done'… which means he ain't bringing them home, period.
    so just what have you (royal 'you') all gained by stomping on lieberman? you've alienated a guy who has a good chance of remaining in the senate, you've shown that you're full of it when you claim that bipartisanship is supposed to be a good thing, and you've given the rest of america a good look into how your dislike for bush has driven you all mad.
    Great job. I couldn't have scripted it any better myself.

  11. August 24, 2004:
    "And I want to say a word about those attacks," [Edwards] says. "No. 1, the claim that John Kerry did not serve this country honorably in Vietnam is a lie," proven false by news organizations and Kerry's comrades in Vietnam. "The second thing that has become clearer is that those ads are being financed by and pushed by friends of George W. Bush," he continues. Third, Edwards points out that "this is the same kind of smear campaigning and tactics that we saw against John McCain back in the 2000 presidential primary."
    Very stout defense of Kerry.
    And this is during the primaries when they were still competing against each other!
    Move along, Thomas, move along . . . put your fingers in your ears and chant "Lalalalalala".

  12. Ref steve sturm's 7:40 AM: per George W. Bush once a nation has held an election democracy is in place and cannot be reversed. Per citizen Lieberman anyone who questions the wisdom of Mr. Bush "does so at his peril". An election was held in Connecticut last night. Questioning the Lamont victory is therefore undermining George W. Bush and you are doing so at your peril.
    PS Funny how these election thingiys the US is pushing so heavily on other nations aren't so great when they result in Washington DC insiders losing their nice cushy jobs, isn't it.

  13. I was thinking more of this article from Slate:
    To quote:
    But instead of elaborating on what we've learned about the president's character over the past three weeks or, even better, instead of making a careful lawyerly rebuttal of the veterans' charges, Edwards meekly says that hope is on the way. "We hope the president finally steps to the plate and does what he ought to do. All of us hope that."
    I admit I'm not sure exactly what Edwards should say to respond to the veterans, but asking President Bush to condemn the Swift boat ads isn't sufficient. For one, Bush has shown that he isn't willing to do so. In fact, Bush is adroitly using the group's existence to criticize the Kerry-Edwards campaign's reliance on their own 527 groups. The line of attack that Edwards is currently taking against Bush is allowing the president to turn this into a pox-on-both-houses controversy. But if both sides are diseased, the Democrats are infecting the campaign with chicken pox while the Swift boat vets are spreading the political version of the stuff that settlers gave to Indians in blankets.
    But any tactic would be better than begging Bush for mercy. Stop asking Bush to condemn the ads. Take the fight to the Swift boat vets themselves. Point out that the burden of proof is on Kerry's critics to prove their claims true, not on Kerry to prove them false. Point out that the U.S. military agrees with Kerry. Attack the president for not contradicting the smears when they're repeated by voters at "Ask President Bush" forums. Stop asking and start telling.
    Are you sure there isn't something else about Joe Lieberman that drives you crazy?

  14. Well, at least this was one election the Bushies couldn't steal! I wish this idiot would accept his loss gracefully and then go sit on 12 corporate boards like all other senate has-beens!
    As for Steve Sturm's comment above: WE are the crazies? Give me a break – just look at the state of the world today. It was MUCH safer when the Republicans were not running the show – and more prosperous for most of us, as well, I might add.

  15. Thomas: Are you sure there isn't something else about Joe Lieberman that drives you crazy?
    Your claim was that Edwards never vigorously defended Kerry, not that there were people who thought or wrote that he never vigorously defended Kerry.
    Your quote, then, from the Slate doesn't offer any proof that your claim is true, but the actual words of Edwards vigorously defending Kerry do prove that your claim is false.
    Are you sure there isn't something else about Joe Lieberman that drives you crazy?
    Yes, that he has the support of people like you who willingly engage in mendacities to boost their arguments, because they can't find any truth in support of those arguments.
    Again, move along before you hurt yourself straining to screw some weird sort of 'credibility' back into your false assertions.

  16. It is hard to get over his providing cover for the admin's authoritarian "commander-in-chief" rhetoric.
    That said, I don't get see what the point of this particular criticism is. He thinks he can win. Maybe he's right. If he is, then if he wants to be a Democrat I don't believe that either the Senate Democratic Caucus or the Conn state party is going to tell him that he isn't.
    Of course, he might be wrong too. Then, he's a shmuck.

  17. > If he is, then if he wants to be a
    > Democrat I don't believe that either
    > the Senate Democratic Caucus or the
    > Conn state party is going to tell him
    > that he isn't.
    That would pretty much be the end of the concept of party politics, as it would imply that the concept of "primary election" had no meaning. Why should anyone, but particularly the dedicated activists (the base) that any organization must have, work for an entity if incumbent insiders get as many mulligans as they need to keep their stranglehold on power?

  18. AfG, I supplied the Slate quote simply to demonstrate that my take on Edwards wasn't entirely idiosyncratic–that at least one other observer (a liberal one, at that) thought at the time that Edwards wasn't vigorous in his defense of Kerry. You obviously disagree, but the Slate article I think give good reason to think that the bit of Edwards' defense quoted isn't much of one.

  19. Mark, any fifty-one vote majority that includes someone like Lieberman who supports Bush over his own party (and echoing the "dissent is treason" line is pure authoritarian horseshit – why the hell would we listen to a Republican who said that, much less one of our "own"?) and acts like he's more concerned about the excesses of his nominal colleagues as Democrats than those of the Republican Congress and Administration, is going to be ephemeral at best.
    I'd say Joe shouldn't let the door hit him on the way out of the party, but it's clear he's already far out of it.

  20. Steve Sturm: "Even with 100 democratic senators, Bush ain't bringing the troops home before 'the job is done'… which means he ain't bringing them home, period."
    Steve is expressing one truth which I doubt he intended. If Bush HASN'T brought the troops home by 2008 and the situation has not considerably improved (and anyone care to bet on the latter happening?), then the voters will be downright rabid against any GOP Presidential nominee who proposes leaving them there still longer — and the candidates who currently say they also favor leaving them there indefinitely "until the job is done" include the otherwise unbeatable McCain and Giuliani, who will thus have painted huge bullseyes on their backs for the 2008 Democratic nominee to shoot at.
    As for Chris' comment on Lieberman's "authoritarian horseshit": note, as I said above, that Democrats aren't the only ones objecting to it — so is Andy Sullivan. And when the empty Talking Heads yell that this primary loss was actually "great news for the Republicans" (damned if "Time" hasn't already started singing that tune), they should note that we now have a situation pitting one antiwar Senate candidate against TWO pro-war candidates in a state where the voters are opposed to the Iraq War by two to one in the polls. The arithmetic isn't that hard to do. If Lieberman wins this thing, it will be in spite of — not because of — his ties to Bush on the war issue.

  21. Mark, as much as I really don't like Lieberman right now, I implore you not to use the phrase "Sore Loserman". That conjures up way too many angry memories of 2000 for me.

  22. Bruce, I have to admit it feels rather weird to see Andrew "fifth column/decadent enclave" Sullivan coming around to the non-authoritarian horseshit position on dissent/treason.
    Also: the talking heads will yell about *anything* being great news for the Republicans; Digby caught CNN's Dana Bash practically wetting her pants with excitement at getting Ken Mehlman to talk about how happy the RNC is about Lamont beating Lieberman.

  23. …man, they cranked up pretty fast…that ridiculous thought that Lieberman's loss benefits the neo-cons.
    Silly neo-cons…they could spin a story about a democratic vet who lost his limbs, as really being Satan, without blinking their eye. Because they have that 'vast right-wing conspiracy net' in place already; you know, the one they've been building for the past two decades. So anything about any democrat could be used against us, regardless of content..because they lie so effectively, and easily, with no regard to reality.
    F*ck modern day republicans, and their lust for power at any cost. The only crazy people are the ones who sell their souls to get dominionist christian nutjob votes. NO THANK YOU!!!

Comments are closed.