Disclosure: I worked for the Lamont campaign doing web design and production and some writing for the official blog (from 9/5/06 to 11/07/06).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


From Navel-Gazing to Navel-Stabbing

Note: this is a re-post of a diary entry posted at Daily Kos earlier this month, referencing Joe Lieberman's chat with his good friend Sean Hannity on Feb. 10th.

Lieberman's interview with Hannity was an amazing example of the uber-Navel-Gazing Democrat gone off the deep end. Vilsack and Bayh are amateurs compared to Joe.

Going through the interview, time and time again, Lieberman plays an even more emasculated Alan Colmes, asking his interlocutor to set the terms of debate, and, unlike Colmes, shying away from any hint of disagreement with Hannity even when the lines between him and Lieberman (even as a conservative Democrat) are clear.

Here are a few examples, after which I will try to distill the Senator's motives (audio from this diary, full transcript here):

HANNITY: I'm good. Now listen, before we get into all the stuff that we need to talk about, there's a lot of news here. I need to know, yes or no, do you want my public support, do you want my endorsement, do you think that hurts your re-election efforts, do you want me to come out in opposition of you, I want to do what's in your best interests, you gotta tell me what you want me to do.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Well, you know, it's good of you to ask me in private like this. (Laughter)

HANNITY: (Laughter) I'm thinking... I'm thinking Hannity Conservatives for Lieberman and I'll do a big fundraiser in Connecticut.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, yeah. Let me just say, I appreciate your friendship, and I appreciate your support. Really.

HANNITY: So you want my endorsement?

LIEBERMAN: What can I... if you support me... Look, I've always gotten elected by people from all parties. Now if there's a Democratic primary against me, which there might be, I might ask you to come in and endorse my opponent. (Laughter)

This is revealing. (More after the jump...)

Lieberman says he is happy to accept support from all parties, which in theory is fine. In practice, he built his career by taking out a Republican senator who was very popular with liberals and moderates in Connecticut 18 years ago, and then being the most conservative possible choice for a frightened presidential candidate in Al Gore who was trying to distance himself from his boss.

But Lieberman is less popular with Connecticut Democrats than he is with Connecticut Republicans. He must know how incredibly vulnerable this makes him to a primary challenge, where Republicans - like Buckley and Hannity - can't vote for him.

On Alito:

HANNITY: ... by the way, I was mad at you at Alito, and one day I'm gonna pull you aside, and I believe in my heart, I really believe in my heart that if the president really needed your vote, you would have been there.
LIEBERMAN: (Sigh) Well, OK, you pull me aside and we'll talk. (Laughter)

HANNITY: Alright, you don't want to answer that publicly, do you?

LIEBERMAN: (Laughter) Cause I voted no.

HANNITY: I know you voted no but...

LIEBERMAN: But I did vote against the filibuster cause I thought that, you know, it was time to move on.

Absolute wrong answer. Right answer for a Democrat: "I voted against Alito because of concerns A, B, and C. Period." Project strength. Stand behind your convictions, if you have any. Instead, he cozies up to Hannity, trying to show him how "good" a Democrat he's been by voting against the filibuster.

On Ned Lamont:

HANNITY: Yeah. But are you concerned at all about... that your political situation... you are gonna have a primary it looks like?

LIEBERMAN: Well, yeah, I mean it's basically from folks in the Democratic party who are obviously angry at me about the war, and also don't like the fact that, you know, sometimes I work across party lines, but that's because that's what you do to get something done and, you know, I just don't think every issue has to be taken as a partisan issue. But I'm taking it... there's not a declared candidate... there's a guy from Greenwich who's looking at it, and I'm taking it seriously. It's a privilege to be a United States senator and it's nothing, you know, that comes as a grant, so you gotta earn it every time around and I'm ready to go out and fight for it.

Two things here about how Lieberman will deal with Lamont. (1) He will try to paint him as purely anti-war and anti-bipartisanship. I don't know how this will sell in a Democratic primary in a state that is overall anti-war and pro-Democratic party. (2) He will call him an elitist "from Greenwich" and hope that depresses turnout.

On Katrina:

HANNITY: Look, like everything else, Senator... I mean, I actually have a whole series of quotes here in front of me... you know, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the day after the hurricane hit, he blamed Bush and the CO2 gases and the not supporting the Kyoto accord. You have Paul Begala said, well the money was spent to fund Iraq. Ted Kennedy said, Bush is the one who poisoned the air and water. Here's what bothers me about this whole thing, the government made terrible mistakes.

HANNITY: But for 35 years, New Orleans knew this was coming. They had a thousand schoolbuses sitting five feet away from them, and the governor and the mayor didn't have enough sense to go put a key in it and get a thousand drivers and help these people out that needed help.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, there can't be... you know, listen, some people are trying to scapegoat Michael Brown, some people are trying to scapegoat President Bush....

What about the person, Senator, who is trying to scapegoat RFK Jr., Paul Begala, Ted Kennedy, Gov. Blanco, and Mayor Nagin? The person on the phone with you right now, scapegoating and tarring five major figures in your party? You don't care to perhaps, point that out politely, much less defend one or any of them? Why do you call yourself a Democrat if you fail to defend your party?

On domestic warrantless spying:

HANNITY:...And, you know, Karl Rove said that Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview, and he said, it doesn't make them unpatriotic, but it makes them wrong.


HANNITY: He believes, profoundly consistently wrong. And I think the latest example of this is, we can kill members of Al Qaeda, but we've got Democrats up in arms over the idea that if Al Qaeda calls into the United States from an outside country, that, boy, we'd better get a court order to listen to them. It's absurd to me.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, here's where... this may not be a big disagreement... I totally want those programs to go on. I think in America we don't like to give authority without some minimal screen. And you know, it was very interesting at the Judiciary Committee hearings this week, you had a bunch of Republicans, who are I'd say conservative Republicans, like Lindsay Graham and Sam Brownback, saying we've got to figure out how to work on this. Nobody should want to stop this program, nobody should even want to impede it, cause we want to be listening to Al Qaeda-related phone calls, we want to be reading their emails, but I think we want to work with the administration to come up with some kind of promise, not for, almost for the future, that in our country, you know, you need some kind of court approval from a secret court, FISA court, or something else. And I think we can work this one out. This is really an unnecessary debate, and and unnecessary fight and it distracts us from the war on terrorism.

"Not a big disagreement," "minimal screen," "unnecessary debate"... these are the words of someone who doesn't want to talk about this issue for fear of some non-existant political backlash. You may not think this is a big issue, Senator, but the American public does in poll after poll. Sen. Graham and Sen. Brownback and other Republicans have shown more backbone than Sen. Lieberman on this. Pathetic. And when you call this an "unnecessary debate," perhaps you'd like to point out a minor fact like that it was president breaking the law that led to this little debate?And not make it seem like it's the Democrats that are debating "unnecessarily" here? OK, maybe next time.

on National Security:

HANNITY: And it goes on, it starts listing some of the Democrats that have become the most outspoken. And we saw, for example, during the Alito hearings we saw Ted Kennedy and Biden and Chuck Schumer. Hillary Clinton is a loud voice for the Democratic party these days, as is John Kerry. We saw, for example, the way the president was treated down at Coretta Scott King's funeral, by Jimmy Carter. Do you fear that the Democratic party has really been co-opted by a pretty hard-left element?

LIEBERMAN: Well this is the great challenge to us. I mean, if Democrats ever want to get back in power, they're gonna have to move back toward the center, and are gonna have to reassure the American people on the baseline question, which is what government, particularly the federal government, is about before anything else, which is security, that Democrats will use the power of our government to protect people's security in a dangerous age. Unless we do that, the public's never gonna listen to us on everything else, including a lot of the stuff on which I think they agree with Democrats, like education, healthcare, et cetera.

First, never refer to Democrats as "they." Unless you aren't one. Second, I agree with Sen. Lieberman that the Democratic party needs a positive program and message on National Security. But Lieberman thinks this program should be Bush's program. Bush's/Cheney's/Lieberman's program has failed on all levels. We are not safer. This is why Hannity loves you, Joe. Because you help validate a failed program and help impede the Democratic party from moving to a real, positive National Security message. You enable failure on issues of security for your party and your country.


HANNITY: You know something, it's amazing, I say that on this program all the time, Senator Lieberman. No, but you know something, if they would listen to you, you would have a real opportunity to get back into power. But thank god they're not listening to you.
LIEBERMAN: (Laughter)

HANNITY: Your voice is not being heard. I don't anticipate it's gonna be heard in the future. And the only hope for you is to just leave the party, and become a good cons... see, I've, I'm not even, I'm re-registering as a conservative. I'm a Reagan conservative. So you can join the conservative movement with me, and we'll start a third party.

LIEBERMAN: America may be ready for a third party, Sean. An independent party.

HANNITY: Last question. If you ever want me to do anything, for you and your re-election, I think we ought to have Conservatives for Lieberman, a big fundraiser in Connecticut, and if I could ever do that, I'd make it the biggest blowout celebration ever.

LIEBERMAN: Thanks, pal. You're a great guy. It would just be fun to be with you. ...

So it's clear: Lieberman's main goal in this interview, as in so many others he's conducted, was to continue cozy up to the radical right. They got him elected in 1998 and fund his campaigns even today. They are his base, not moderate Democrats.

While his responses to Hannity about forming a third party, or showing up at a "Hannity Conservatives for Lieberman" fundraiser, may have been in jest, I am not at all convinced there was not some real kernel of truth to them.

Hi, thirdparty.

This is the interview every Democrat primary voter needs to listen to / read before voting. Joe keeps taking the rope, quickly tying it into a noose, and dropping it over his head.
The transcript doesn't do it justice, you really have to listen to the audio to get the level of jocularity between the two. I can't imagine Joe ever being as jokingly friendly with a host on Air America, for instance.

Hopefully Joe's laughfests with Hannity (they apparently happen on a monthly basis) will continue to be recorded for posterity.
Yeah. The transcript also doesn't translate the sheer amount of joy that Sean and Joe are having making fun of Democrats. "You're one of the good ones." WTF?
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