Lieberman Has Himself to Blame

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lieberman Has Himself to Blame

In the new issue of The New Republic, Jason Zengerle writes that the fundamental reason why Senator Joe Lieberman is in danger of being defeated in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary "is Lieberman himself."

Some excerpts from Zengerle's article:
While many of his friends and supporters admire Lieberman’s willingness to take a principled stand in supporting the war — even if they themselves disagree with that stand — they cannot understand why he hasn’t been more critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war.

“You can be for the war and be critical of it, and he lost the second half of the equation,” says one former advisor.

“Look at (Senator Joe) Biden. Here’s somebody who voted for the war, continues to say that we should be there, but is absolutely critical of Bush and how he handled it. And so, as a result, he gets a pass. It's how Lieberman talks about the war that people can't stand. He comes across as not necessarily being pro-war but being pro-Bush."

... Exacerbating this problem has been Lieberman's staff. "He's got a staff now that's very knowledgable in their substantive areas," says one Lieberman friend. "But there's not a lot of political smarts there."

A number of Lieberman's friends and supporters cite his November 2005 Wall Street Journal op-ed backing Bush's strategy in Iraq and urging Democrats to do the same — which Lamont said triggered his decision to enter the race — as a perfect example of something that Lieberman's staff should have prevented from happening.

... The (Lieberman) campaign was slow to bring much scrutiny on Lamont himself. And, when it finally did in June stand — cutting an amateurish cartoon (television) ad attacking Lamont for his close ties to former Connecticut Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker — the effort was almost laughably bad.

"That ad was retarded," says one Democratic Senate aide sympathetic to Lieberman.

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