Lamont irritates Lieberman
New Haven Register says Joe Lieberman looks somewhat irritated.
Does it seem to you that Joe Lieberman is a bit nervous and irritable these days?You can bet Lieberman is aware of the low-turnout factor and that many liberal Democrats are extermely unhappy with his close relationship with the Bush administration. Given the events of the last week, I can see why one would conclude that Joe is showing signs of nervousness.
Lieberman is a three-term U.S. senator who has long been one of Connecticut’s most popular Democrats. He was his party’s vice presidential candidate in 2000, and is one of the most recognizable members of Congress.
Under normal circumstances, Lieberman should be confidently cruising toward a fourth term.
The problem for Lieberman is that this election year is anything but normal.
For the first time since he won election to the U.S. Senate in 1988, Lieberman is facing a Democratic primary challenger.
Ned Lamont is a successful Greenwich businessman with enough personal resources to kick-start his primary bid. He is also more articulate and personable than the feeble election opponents Lieberman has faced in two previous re-election frolics.
Lamont also has a politically potent issue in the Iraq war and Lieberman’s steadfast support for Republican President Bush’s war policies.
The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has been growing increasingly unhappy with Lieberman in recent years on issues ranging from foreign policy to his conservative criticism of the entertainment industry.
But all of that pales in comparison to liberal anger over Iraq. Lamont calls Lieberman "Bush’s favorite Democrat," a tag that is probably very close to the truth.
This year is also unusual because it’s the first time Connecticut has really faced the possibility of a serious statewide primary contest being decided in August.
The state switched from a September to an August primary several of years ago, but there haven’t been any major primary battles until now. No one is sure how it’s going to play out, or even if voters will be paying any attention to politics in the middle of vacation season.
Primaries traditionally draw low voter turnouts. The lower the turnout, the more likely it is that the contest will be decided by a swing of a few thousand votes. Politicians hate that kind of uncertainty.
Liberal activists are exactly the kind of Democrats who tend to turn out for primaries, particularly when they’re fired up about something like the war in Iraq.
There is also no doubt he’s causing Joe some "agita."I wouldn't quite say Lamont appears to look like a serious challenger, he is a serious challenger.
After Lamont announced earlier this month, Lieberman’s campaign manager accused the challenger of making personal attacks on Lieberman’s character and integrity — which Lamont hadn’t done. Last week, Lieberman got into a spat with Hartford-area radio talk show host Colin McEnroe over Lieberman’s support for Bush and his warnings to Democrats about undermining the president during a war.
The more irritated Lieberman gets with this situation, the more delighted his liberal critics become, and the more serious a challenger Lamont appears.