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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

McEnroe adds his two cents regarding the Weicker challenge

A reader pointed me to a commentary by Colin McEnore of The Hartford Courant in which McEnroe offers up some very insightful points regarding the possibility of Lowell Weicker challenging Joe Lieberman next year.

1. If he runs against Lieberman at all, he will not do so as a Democrat seeking a primary, even though it makes intuitive political sense to do so. (That is, we can intuit that the largest bloc of the people dissatisfied with Lieberman are, paradoxically, registered Democrats. When you widen the voter field to a general election, you inevitably include more people willing to cut him some slack.) That does not matter, says Weicker. That's a political calculation, he told me. He says that he's not making political calculations, that this is all about principle.

1a. I think it's almost impossible to overstate the degree to which, psychologically, Weicker has identified himself as a third party, independent guy. When you get him talking about that stuff, you realize it's really at the heart of how he sees himself these days.

1b. A perspicacious caller pointed out that to primary Lieberman might not even be an optimal strategy, because Lieberman, if vanquished, could seek Republican support (although, by then, this would probably involve somehow getting their actual nominee to step aside) or run his own independent campaign.

2. Weicker is also prepared to remove his name from speculation if someone, from any party, will step forward and mount a substantial challenge to Lieberman based on the latter's war politics. This challenger need not be a political giant, although Weicker said he would whole-heartedly endorse and support his former opponent Toby Moffett should the former congressman/anchorman decide to primary Lieberman. (This was based on a mildly snooty letter to the editor by Moffett in that day's New York Times, rather than on any real possibility that the K Street lobbyist has an interest in flying himself into the side of the Lieberman battleship.) I'd be less surprised, however, if Gary Collins, otherwise known (but only by me) as the Barack Obama of Connecticut, were to take a stand against Lieberman. Collins has been making a little noise lately. Also, he's not as cute as he was five years ago. He should run for something soon.

3. Weicker knows the odds are long. He is at least portraying this as a Quixotic enterprise, a glorious quest, for which the world will be better, even if he gets his ass kicked. He admits that losing to Lieberman is a greater probability than winning.

4. Lost in all the talk about Weicker's titanium knee is the fact that knee replacements are becoming rather commonplace among U.S. senators from Connecticut. This story seems to have been rather underplayed. And Lieberman himself seems to be in a high risk group, what with all the genuflecting he does nowadays.

5. Weicker brushed off the talk about Lieberman replacing Rumsfeld. His point -- and it's a good one -- is that the Bush cabal wants to be able to have small meetings in which everybody in the rooms is one of "their guys," dyed in the wool and marinated in the Kool-Aid, and that one of those people in the room has to be the Secretary of Defense.
Advantage McEnroe!

All of his points are valid, well thought out, and makes the possibility of Weicker jumping into the senate race all the more appealing.