Tuesday, August 08, 2006

time for a change

well, it's primary day in connecticut and the country finally gets to see if democratic and independent voters there want a new senator. although lamont has enjoyed an amazing 13-point lead in the polls over the last week, that lead was halved over the weekend, and polls have been known to be wrong anyway. lamont's "netroots" supporters have been careful to temper their enthusiasm, having bitterly tasted defeat too often before.

i've been trying to step back and look at the race in more fundamental terms, beyond the particular issues being argued in it. in most regular elections the voters are offered two choices: the incumbent or the challenger; the status quo or change.

and right now the entire country is disgusted with the direction the white house and congress has taken the country, and nowhere is that truer than in connecticut, one of the bluest of the blue states. the country is aching for change. it's a fundamental dynamic that seems only today to be getting the emphasis it really deserves:

americablog: people are frustrated. they're tired of the republicans and their arrogance, their failed policies, their incompetence, and their inability to learn and grow from their mistakes. that is why the blogs came about, and it's why we've been successful at getting a voice. we are tapping into that frustration and, yes, anger, and channeling it towards an effort to change things for the better.

and that, my reporter friends, is what is happening in connecticut and across america.

joe lieberman is a victim of the anti-incumbent, anti-republican times in which we live. he is not a victim of the peace movement. he is not a victim of the iraq war. he is part or the larger passion play that is taking place across the country against the incumbent party in power. republicans control the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. americans believe our country is heading in the wrong direction and we, rightfully, are finally holding those running the country accountable, in addition to those who enable and embrace them.

mydd: luis, a poll worker who came out for some fresh air, said "lots of democrats today!" — the polling place had separate doors for the republican and democratic primaries, and i could see fewer than 1 out of 10 voters were going in the republican door. luis said he's seen a lot of new voters and young voters today. "they want change."

for all his vaunted experience in politics, lieberman strangely has been either unwilling or unable to recognize or respond to that basic dynamic. he's lost touch with his own constituents. he's been taking them for granted.

this race shouldn't have been a contest. it's been lieberman's to lose all along, and he will. what finally convinced me was lieberman's last big media statement, his "closing argument", which he delivered as a speech on sunday in east haven.

in it he reiterated his record and ticked off his democratic bona fides. but not once did he say the magic words: i'm going to change.

lieberman insists that he's been good for connecticut for 18 years and connecticut needs him to continue to do what he's been doing.

he even insists that he hears the criticism:

what i will say is this: i not only respect your right to disagree or question the president, i value it.

but just how does he demonstrate that? he never explains how his constituents' views influence his behavior, if at all. i get the impression of joe patting a boy on the head, telling him, "i know you're upset — i really, really do — you just need to understand your daddy knows what's good for you."

so it comes as little surprise, according to markos of daily kos, that lieberman omitted these words from his planned ending for that speech when he finally delivered it:

if after hearing the truth about where i stand on iraq, you still want to cast your vote solely on that one issue, then i respect your decision.

lieberman apparently had second thoughts about legitimizing that rationale for the voters.

and when asked early sunday for his position on iraq by george stephanopolous on abc's this week:

gs: you're right that iraq is the number one issue, there's just no question —
jl: — there's no question about it and you see not only — you see it in the opinion polls.
gs: and you said in the debate [with lamont on july 7] that iraq is better now than a year ago. do you still believe that?
jl: it is better now ... it- it- it’s better and worse if you’ll allow me to put it that way ...

joe just can't let go of his support for the failed occupation. even while suffering the damage it's done to his career — which explains his fumbling bush-like doublespeak.

so joe's not gonna change his tune or his behavior, and he expects connecticut voters to simply accept that.

and they will, but only for a few hours longer.

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