Put down the gun and let’s talk this out

Ezra Klein:

To add to the post-mortems of the day, my guess is that the relationship between Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Party is about to get a whole lot more fraught. Previously, there was a real unwillingness on the part of the party mandarins to go against Joe who, even if he were to run as an independent, would still be bound in the Senate by long ties of friendship and esteem with the Democratic caucus. But now that so many from the caucus have bowed to base pressure and endorsed Ned Lamont — I’m thinking here of Dodd, Clinton, Feingold, Kerry, Bayh, Kennedy, Schumer, Emmanuel, Reid, and Obama, all of whom have stuck the shiv into Joe — Lieberman is apt to feel as betrayed by his colleagues as he does by his voters. That radically increases the chance he’ll switch parties or leverage his independence against his side which, in turn, radically increases the importance that the party kill off his candidacy and ensure Lamont’s election. So Lieberman’s in a rough cycle here — his loss in the primary forced his colleagues to turn on his candidacy which, in turn, forces them to seriously support Lamont lest Lieberman exact revenge.

Ezra seems to think, in this post, that the Democrats are going to have to prevent Lieberman from going completely over to the dark side by taking the Ivan Drago route, and breaking him. I don’t think this is a wise course of action, for basically the same reason I don’t think Bush-style foreign policy is a wise course of action: the “batter them into submission” approach denies all options except fight or submit. Which means if you’re not so keen on humiliation, which people rarely are, you fight, because you have nothing to lose.

Having a betrayed-feeling Joe Lieberman vowing to fight like a cornered wolverine all the way to November in order to Show Them All would be, I assert, sub-optimal. So does Nicholas Beaudrot, guest posting just two entries up at Ezra’s blog:

I guess I didn’t make the obvious point. The more pressing reason for Lieberman to withdraw is to stop making it harder for Democrats to take back the Senate. If that’s your goal, you may have to hand Lieberman a nice “lifeboat” rather than try to push him from the race, a strategy I think might just redouble his resolve and cause him to drift further to the right.

Even though I like to call Lieberman “Fredo,” there’s just no way he’s going to allow himself to be quietly rowed out to the middle of the lake. (As commander-in-chief of this weblog, I have claimed authority throughout this post to torture metaphors.) The best option here is to give him some sort of escape route that will allow him to drop the independent campaign while saving face.

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6 thoughts on “Put down the gun and let’s talk this out

  1. Tom

    The attack ads in the works for the fall regarding Lieberman/Lamont are wondrously awkward and don’t even really make sense. I hope the Republicans tie their hopes to the blistering (note sarcasm pooling at my feet) ads that say, “Lieberman wasn’t Liberal enough so they kicked him off the ticket, so you should vote for the incumbent Republican in your local district…” Ridiculous. non-sequitur. And I hope they use it.

  2. Ananth

    Is that a real ad or are you making something up to be funny? I think the republican strategy is going to be to try and get republicans out to vote for Lieberman and pretty much abandon their craptacular nominee with the hope that more republican the turnout, the more likely they will be voting for the republican incumbent. I dunno, that’s what I think it will be anyway… we’ll see what happens.

    As for joe, trying to shank him is bad on many levels for democrats. The most important being what if he wins? This is basically going to play out on the polling numbers. If ‘Fredo’ stays way ahead in the 3 way poll numbers, their is no way the DSCC wastes money trying to help Lamont win the seat over someone who is going to be a Democrat anyway. And if Lamont pulls ahead, they won’t need to spend money either. They only way the would have to spend money in CT is if the alienated Joe to the point where he would become a Republican if he wins, so I think you will see some very non enthusiastic stumping if any by the party. I think you will get a lot of ‘Joe Leiberman is good man and a fine Senator, but I support the Democratic Nominee’ and that probably won’t even be in Connecticut.

  3. Steve

    They only way the would have to spend money in CT is if the alienated Joe to the point where he would become a Republican if he wins

    Dude, we’re there already. I’m pretty sure he feels personally betrayed. He’s the de facto Republican candidate in Connecticut now, and he’s going to have plenty of Republican donors shoring him up. The Democrats need him out of the race.

  4. Ananth

    I don’t think he feels betrayed by all Democrats. He had support by a lot of key democrats in the Primary. I’ll give you that he is ready to take the leftwing of the party to the mattresses, but the simple fact that he wants to stay a democrat in his run should tell you something. Of course he is going to have Republican backers. I am even going to give him some money. There is no viable Republican nominee, and Joe Lieberman is a far better option than Ned Lamont to most people on the Right.

    It seems to me that the left’s hatred of Lieberman is akin to the Right’s hatred of McCain. I see a lot of the same complaints (loves to be on TV, we could get a more liberal/conservative senator in that state). It’s kind of unfortunate that good men like them get thrown under the bus because people are unwilling to deal with the fringe.

  5. Tom

    I got to say, I typically feel like Clinton can do no wrong, but it pissed me off to see him masasging Lieberman’s balls like that. What the fuck Bill?

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