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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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I'm sorry. I just don't see it.

Mike Allen has a piece in Time arguing that Republicans are thanking their lucky stars and Democrats are shaking in their boots because of the cudgel Ned Lamont's victory in Connecticut has given them for November.



The piece runs down each of the key GOP players -- Mehlman, Cheney, Snow -- each bellowing out RNC talking points claiming that Lieberman's defeat means the Democratic party is beholden to the hard-left and ostrich-like isolationists.

Lieberman, as Mike explains, is now slated to become the martyr to isolationism whom Republicans will laud at every turn. "On television and in speeches in coming days," writes Allen, "party officials and strategists plan to talk about their respect for Lieberman as a distinguished public servant and argue that Lamont's victory represents the end of the long tradition of strong-on-national-defense Democratic leaders in the mold of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy."

This is sad.

Not because I think any of this is true or that it will resonate with the public. Not even because I'm surprised at how easily many of my press colleagues pen stories like this recounting GOP press offensives without questioning whether it really seems likely to succeed.

What's really sad is that the nexus of national press and political operative bigwigs really needs to get over itself a bit here. Because once they do, they may actually be able to get over Joe Lieberman.

Joe Lieberman is not a world-historical figure.

He's not fighting some long twilight struggle.

He thinks he's both. But he's not.

I really don't think the Missouri senate race is going to turn on Jim Talent challenging Claire McCaskill on whether she'll endorse Ned Lamont and abandon Joe Lieberman. I don't think most voters around the country really know or care that much about Joe Lieberman. And to the extent that they know who he is, outside of the committed partisans on both sides, they don't realize or think or imagine (as the Russert/Kristol/Matalin/Broder axis does) that he's this symbolically resonant figure on whom the fate of the nation may alas rest.

The heart of the matter here is that everyone knows Joe in DC. They like him. They think he's a nice guy, which he is. His staff likes him, which also makes him seem like a nice guy. He's schmoozed the city for two decades.

But really he's just a pol who ignored his constituents, went into serious denial about a major foreign policy disaster, was more lockstep with the president's non-policy than many Republicans, and got bounced by his constituents.

That's politics. And that's accountability. And, really? It's not that big a deal.

Many Americans are not comfortable with the idea of just pulling out of Iraq. But the war is really unpopular. I think most Americans realize that the president thinks his Iraq policy is a rousing success and most Democrats don't. They get that. They see it. They understand it. If Republicans think the Martyrdom of Joe is going to be their killer issue, let them have at it. They're trying to knock the Dems off their stride but they're showing their desperation. The whole thing is, in both the most serious and frivolous senses of the word, a joke.

Late Update: TPM Reader DS responds ...

It's really pretty clear. If the Democrats, in an anti-incumbent, disenchanted voter year, use the Lieberman/Lamont race to show people that their votes really matter, they can hope to achieve high, anti-incumbent turnout in November.

The Republicans, of course, want to nip that notion in the bud. They want, no, they need to make this a referendum on bloggers, the far-left, poor Joe Lieberman, soft-on-terror liberals.

What the Republicans truly want to avoid is another "kick-em-out" 1994 sentiment. Should that type of thinking take hold, we get both houses of Congress, and they will do anything in their power to prevent that, even if it means martyring Say It Ain't So Joe.

Sharp-eyed TPM Reader FG alerted me late this evening that TNR part owner Marty Peretz had spent the day engaging even more than the standard extent of self-parody and that I should go over to The Plank to investigate for myself. And I was not to be disappointed when I went to look for myself.

Marty has discovered what did Joe in: Bill Clinton.

Yes, as he notes, "When Clinton came into the state, Lieberman and Lamont were running dead even in the polls, more or less. Clinton's appearance began Lieberman's decline. Within two or three days, Lieberman was down by ten points."

And in case you're wondering, or in case you're not familiar with Marty Peretz, No, he's actually not kidding.

My pals at TNR must have gotten a kick out of that one. But, hey, Marty's the boss.

Or is one-third boss now? I can't remember.

I think Ryan Lizza's on to something. Lamont has a very brief window of time to shut down Lieberman's indie bid. And he's off to a slow start.

In addition to our New York-based Fall internships (which you can find out more about here), we have one slot for a DC-based intern who will work with TPMmuckraker's DC reporter-blogger Justin Rood. If you're interested, find out how to apply here.

In the column I wrote for Time.com last night I said the Lieberman flame-out was part of a larger disconnect growing between Washington and the rest of the country, almost in the way tectonic plates grind against each other with mounting tension until the pressure is cut loose in a massive earthquake. I don't think it's ideological in the narrow sense, or at least not unidirectionally ideological. But given the Republican dominance of the federal government, it's really bad news for the GOP.

And look at yesterday's election. Joe wasn't the only incumbent to go down. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and Joe Schwarz (R-MI) both went down too. Schwarz, significantly, went down to a challenger on the right.

Each went down in their own way. And it's difficult to imagine a more inverted image than Lieberman and McKinney both getting whacked. But any pol watching this knows they're each a chapter of the same story. For three incumbents to go down in party primaries on one day when not that many elections were even held is close to unheard of.

Justin Rood debriefs the LieberWebHeads on just what their story is about what happened to the site. And well ...

So Karl Rove puts in a courtesy call to Joe Lieberman. And tonight RNC Chair Ken Mehlman is refusing to endorse the GOP nominee in the race, politician-cum-casino denizen, Alan Schlesinger. Does this mean Joe is now the de facto Republican in the race?

I found this clip on Atrios's site from this morning's Today Show ...

LAUER: Senator, is there any phone call you could receive? Is there anyone in the Democratic Party who could call you today and ask you to drop out that you would listen to?

LIEBERMAN: Respectfully, no. I am committed to this campaign, to a different kind of politics, to bringing the Democratic Party back from Ned Lamont, Maxine Waters to the mainstream, and for doing something for the people of Connecticut. That's what this is all about: which one of us, Lamont or me, can do more for the future of our people here in Connecticut. And on that basis, I'm going forward with confidence, purpose and some real optimism.


Maxine Waters isn't really my kind of Democrat. But then, if I understand what's happened in the last 36 hours, Joe Lieberman isn't a Democrat at all anymore.

But more to the point. This isn't just inaccurate, it's pathetic. I'ts a like a mini-version of the Iraq War or the War on Terror. You're either with Joe or you're with the extremists. Apparently half of Connecticut Democrats are outside the mainstream.

This is really the attitude that got poor Joe into this bind.

The mainstream is Joe Lieberman, along with possibly Sean Hannity and Bill Kristol. If you disagree with Joe Lieberman, a disagreement about policy is the least of it. It's a major existential crisis for the Democratic party which risks conquest by unreconstructed leftists, extremists and miscellaneous other freaks.

The idea that Ned Lamont is 'outside the mainstream' on any issue I'm aware of is laughable.

As a matter of civics, if Joe Lieberman wants to run as an independent, good for him. If 51% of Connecticut voters want to vote for him, that's democracy. As a Democrat, he should get out of the race now. And every Democrat should tell him to.

If he wants to run as an independent he should and could go to Connecticut voters and say, "A lot of people in my own party disagree with me on this or that issue. But I've served all of Connecticut's citizens for 18 years. And I still think I can be the best senator. So vote for me."

I wouldn't agree with that. But I could respect it.

But he's not. It's all about him and stabbing his own party in the back while he disingenuously pleads that he's trying to save it. He can't admit or realize or get his head around the idea that his denial about Iraq and his obliviousness to his own constituents got him into this mess.

In the end, he just won't come clean. Forget about being a Democrat. Just be a man. It's time.

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