Antiwar Joe supporters:
"Yeah, it gives me pause," says Jean Michaud, a member of a local carpenters' union, which has stuck with Lieberman. "He is for it, but he's against it, too. He wants to bring the troops home. But it's not his fault; it's the top levels of the government."
Why are the polls so stable for Joe, showing him basically in the high forties and Ned in the high thirties? Why did this country elect and reelect Richard Nixon? They are pretty much the same character, both incredibly smart and incredibly narcissistic politicians who manipulate the press and make you feel good about the way they are lying to you. Rick Green at the Hartford Courant and historian Rick Perlstein both point out that Joe is using what is in effect a really, really good hustle. The war isn't a small issue in Connecticut. It's a major issue, but in a sense, the reason Joe is able to sustain his lead is because he's successfully neutralized his extremist position on the war. The Democratic Party refused to get involved, the Republican Party is backing Joe, and the press is accepting the pat narrative that Lieberman is a moderate. That means punching through the con is incredibly hard; if Bill Clinton and Harry Reid won't say that Joe is hustling people on the war, then why should anyone else?
Here's the sad reality, from neoconservative Joshua Muravchik:
Prepare to Bomb Iran. Make no mistake, President Bush will need to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities before leaving office. It is all but inconceivable that Iran will accept any peaceful inducements to abandon its drive for the bomb. Its rulers are religio-ideological fanatics who will not trade what they believe is their birthright to great power status for a mess of pottage. Even if things in Iraq get better, a nuclear-armed Iran will negate any progress there. Nothing will embolden terrorists and jihadists more than a nuclear-armed Iran.
The global thunder against Bush when he pulls the trigger will be deafening, and it will have many echoes at home. It will be an injection of steroids for organizations such as MoveOn.org....
As for vice presidential candidates, how about Condoleezza Rice or even Joe Lieberman? Lieberman says he's still a Democrat. But there is no place for him in that party. Like every one of us, he is a refugee. He's already endured the rigors of running for the White House. In 2008, he deserves another chance--this time with a worthier running mate than Al Gore.
I know it seems crazy, and this is what makes the hustle so good. Joe Lieberman, if reelected, will push to bomb Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons. That's why neoconservatives are trying to put him on their slate for VP, because he's one of them (that he's on the board of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is a key sign.
And the courtship with the Republicans isn't over. Joe continues to threaten Chris Dodd (even as Dodd undercuts Ned with talk of Joe's friendship) and promises to vote 'very independent.'
Republicans peeling off checks for Joe Lieberman at Mayor Bloomberg's house Wednesday night were abuzz with the possibility that the Connecticut senator will join their party if reelected Tuesday....
"His Democratic buddies [Sens.] Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy screwed him," a Republican guest told us. "People are hoping he'll switch parties. He votes with the Republicans a lot. He's one of the last few statesmen."
One Democrat observed, "It could happen. The Republicans could offer him some big carrots, like chairmanship of the Budget Committee. I think he's up for grabs." President Bush praised Lieberman for his pro-Iraq War stance earlier this week.
Joe Lieberman is going to hold a press conference today on Iraq, in which he'll probably outline some plan or statement discussing how the troops need to be brought home. Meanwhile, he'll work against doing just that while egging on a conflict with Iran. The political dialogue in the race though will reflect only what journalists reprint in terms of press releases and poll numbers, so the people of Connecticut will have to see through this hustle on their own. So far, they haven't. And I'm not just saying this as a partisan. If you asked regular voters here whether they think bombing Iran is a good idea, they would say no. If you asked whether they would vote for Lieberman if they knew he would push aggressively for that course of action, they would say no. But no one is asking these questions. And if you want to know why I'm so angry at the party, it's because Bill Clinton and Harry Reid and Barack Obama know that this is what Joe will do, and none of them will lift a finger to stop it. None of them will try to stop the deaths that will result, when it's possible to stop this freight train now, in Connecticut, with a few well positioned statements about Joe's extremism.
There are signs that the people are ignoring this craven universe of political cowards and working through the issues on their own. For instance, voter registration, which is sky-high.
More than 86,000 residents registered to vote between May 1 and Tuesday, the deadline. Of those new voters, 38 percent are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans and 47 percent are unaffiliated, state officials said.
Democrats have long outnumbered Republicans in Connecticut, but the new voters are even more skewed in their favor. Democrats traditionally make up about 33 percent of the state's voters, while Republicans account for about 22 percent, officials said.
The new registrations bring the total number of voters in Connecticut to 1.9 million, a record for a statewide election in a non-presidential year, officials said.
In addition, the Lamont campaign volunteers are driving GOTV for Democrats all over Connecticut, and there's a general sense that the field operation for Lamont is much better than that for Lieberman. As to the polls, there's frustration that Ned went silent after the primary, and that was a mistake. A big mistake. And the party has been terrible, just awful. They haven't provided the necessary outside artillery to point out that Joe wants us to continue the war in Iraq and is basically dishonest about his entire record. At the end of the day, though, I'm not going to be silent while this country meanders towards another war, and I'm not in politics so Democrats can get better parking spots on Capitol Hill. And neither are you, which is why you're reading this.
No one knows who's going to turn out. If the registration numbers are any indication, energy for Democrat is fairly high, and that for Republians is low to middling. There are other turnout mind-games that I can play, and everyone expects the race to tighten in the last few days as the war continues to rage front and center. But politics at the end of the day is a gut call. On August 8th, progressives forced this election to be front and center about Iraq. That's the only reason Democrats are in a position to take the House and the Senate.
Will we beat Joe Lieberman? I don't know. We didn't beat Nixon, and in many ways, this is the same fight. I do know that regardless of what happens on November 7th, it's a fight we're ultimately going to win.