Monday, November 06, 2006

Connecticut Senate Race - The Choice Is Clear

For those of you who haven’t noticed, What? lives in the great state of Connecticut, hence the following commentary on the Senate race in that state.

The Connecticut Senate race this year has attracted national attention. Incumbent Joe Lieberman faced an unlikely challenge for his senate seat from an unknown businessman from Greenwich, Ned Lamont. Lamont’s entrance into the Democratic primary drew notice for his stance on one issue – the ongoing war in Iraq. By highlighting Lieberman’s support for the conflict, Ned forced others to look into the Senator’s support of this along with his support for several other of Bush’s policies.

As the Lamont campaign began to pick up momentum, the Lieberman camp seemed to take on an indignant attitude, almost questioning why someone would even challenge the three term Senator. As the war became more and more unpopular, Lieberman’s camp was forced to defend his stance, which was becoming harder and harder to understand.

A little history here on Senator Lieberman: He himself ran as a Washington outsider in 1988, defeating Lowell Weicker by telling voters how 18 years (Weicker’s length of service at that time) was too long, and it was time for a change. His message struck a chord with voters (who themselves might have grown tired of the incumbent), and he won the seat he holds to this day. The only potential interruption in his service took place during the 2000 presidential election, when Democratic candidate Al Gore chose Joe as his running mate. When faced with the decision of vacating his Senate seat to focus solely on the race for the White House, Lieberman declined, thereby insuring himself of a fallback in the event the Dems lost the election. You know how that turned out, obviously. He once again faced a crossroads as the Primary drew closer, finding himself trailing badly in the polls, and facing a likely shocking defeat. Unable to accept the will of the voters, Joe once again hedged his bets by filing the necessary paperwork to mount an independent campaign should he lose the Democratic race. Again, you know how that turned out. It was funny to listen to Lieberman the night he lost the primary, comparing it to halftime of a football game, and declaring his willingness to slug it out in the second half and win the game. The next day he formally entered the senate race (again), under something called the Connecticut for Lieberman party.

The obvious underlying message taken from the examples above is a simple one. Joe Lieberman is more concerned with taking care of himself then he is the people of this state. Despite being in office exactly as long as Mr. Weicker was when Joe told him it was time to step aside, Lieberman stubbornly continues to do whatever he can to maintain his seat of power. Despite being called out by the voters for siding with an unpopular president on the single most polarizing issue this country has seen since the Vietnam War, Lieberman insists he remain in office. Despite having been defeated by the voters from the very party he claimed to represent and serve faithfully, Lieberman continues to demand his seat at the table.

Lamont, in contrast, is a political neophyte, no doubt. What? looks at this as an opportunity to introduce new blood into Washington, which is sorely needed right now. What started as a one issue campaign has expanded to touch on domestic issues such as health care and social security. Lamont’s stance insists that the ridiculous amount of money spent each day in Iraq could, and should, be used to address real domestic issues. His staunch stance against special interest influence and lobbyists is another issue to which lip service is often paid this time of year, but ultimately little is done about, on either side of the aisle.

The latest polls show Lamont gaining, but still behind. A late push over the weekend, coupled with a big democratic turnout on Tuesday could help tighten things, and bring the Democratic nominee the victory.

Remember, it’s not the famous “kiss” planted on Lieberman’s cheek by George W. Bush after the State of the Union which has put his senate seat in jeopardy, nor is this an indictment of his sometime bi-partisian efforts. On the contrary, voting the issue as opposed to the standard party line can be an admirable thing to do, and is all too rare in this polarized political era. This race, however, boils down to one thing: the war, stupid. No issue is as important to the future of this country and the world at large. The lack of post war planning, the resulting desecration of the constitution by removing habeas corpus, the ultimate creation of an imperial presidency, all stem from this disaster. Mr. Lieberman is clearly on the wrong side here, and he, along with any candidate left who supports it, has to go.

If you live in another state, do your part this Tuesday, and help by removing any incumbent who is still in favor of the mess in the Gulf.

What? heartily endorses Ned Lamont for Senator.
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