August 8th, 2006

Lieberman Mistakenly Re-Ignites Pants, Not Senate Campaign

by Philip Baruth

Tomorrow is the first of two Days of Reckoning, of course, and it will have its own sting of humiliation for Big Joe. But it’s difficult to see how it can come as anything other than a relief, after the week Lieberman has had in the run-up to Primary day.

His rallies have been what you’d call sparsely attended, with staffers making up about 75% of the folks framed in any press photo. The Washington Post has just such a shot on the front page today: Many young kids in immaculate white Lieberman shirts, holding identical Lieberman signs, all of them holding their breath in a vain effort to look wider, denser somehow.

But you know you’ve hit bottom, as an apologist for Bush policy, when even the NY Post slips you the shiv between the ribs.

After trying valiantly to frame Joe’s troubles as the logical consequence of firm principles (”Joe Sticks to his Guns in 11th-Hour Plea”), the Post gave it up, and let columnist Andrea Peyser run a brutal piece called “Stranded Senator a Dead Man Running.”

Peyser reports on an event in East Hartford, attended by two people.

Not two hundred, mind.

Two. As in more than one, less than three.

The first three grafs read like a eulogy, except not quite as light-hearted.

“Even the rain was a no-show. Senator Joe Lieberman stood in the parking lot of Mickey’s Oceanic Grill chatting with exactly two people — a supporter and a stranger wearing a dirty tan raincoat with food speckling the left corner of his mouth.

“Senator Joe greeted Trench Coat Man warmly. Until the guy leaned in and asked him weirdly, ‘What color are your eyes?’ Joe laughed — then rapidly got the hell away.

“It’s been like that on the campaign trail as Lieberman, after 18 years in the Senate, struggles to stay alive going into tomorrow’s primary — or just not to be ignored.”

Brutal, in a word. And this from the City’s Right-leaning rag.

The NY Post also floats the rumor that Lieberman may exit the race after a loss tomorrow, but don’t you believe it, not for a nanosecond. Lieberman, more than most Senators, has a very, very large ego. He was also, don’t forget, Vice President-elect for about 20 minutes.

Which is to say that Joe has issues, issues that make rejection by the voters impossible for him to accept. Losing the nomination of his own party, to a political unknown, will feel like somebody stabbed him in the heart with a long serving fork, yanked it out, and then replaced it with a burning highway flare.

Big Joe will be mad, in all the various senses of the word. His eyes will be red, at that point.

But there’s no helping it: the man insists that defying the strong and consistent will of the voters, rather than disqualifying him for his office, makes him all the more suited for it. So tomorrow he will be disabused of that idea.

And in spite of stumbling into Burlington tired and foot-sore from a journey of thousands of literal miles, VDB will bring you the late-breaking results, down to the tiniest, goriest detail.

Why? Because we simply won’t be able to help ourselves. That’s why.