Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Does the feeble Lieberman ad point to a deeper problem? Do Dems have to confront their inner doofus?

I wonder if, with Lieberman's campaign against Lamont, we're seeing the Democratic party's ineffective campaign tactics from the other side. What I mean is, aren't these the same geniuses who run campaigns against Republican opponents every two years? As we're people who regularly root for the Democratic candidate, it's hard to for us to accurately assess the effectiveness of Democratic campaign ads, since criticisms from opponents are often brushed aside.

Now that we're watching these same tactics in action against our guy (or in your case, someone towards whom you're ambivalent) everyone's response has been, "My God, this is horrible!" And really Josh, you'd have the best perspective in this case, playing the role of the independent voter.

Regardless of who wins the primary, maybe this can be a learning experience and/or a wake-up call for Democratic campaign strategists.

Carter Eskew?

Crazy like a fox? Or crazy like a moron? TPM Reader JH checks in ...

I'll chime in as someone that thinks the Lieberman ad is crazy, and not crazy like a fox.

I work in graphics and advertising, and the thing that strikes me hardest about this ad is how amateurish it looks. You can get away with a crappy cartoon ad if what you're selling is the local tile and carpet dealership, but Lieberman is supposed to be a serious person, not to mention a U.S. Senator. As an incumbent he should be selling his gravitas and experience, and he should be at least implicitly referring to his deep roots to his constituents (after all, he's been their Senator since '88). Ad hominem attacks are pretty standard for political advertising, but at least most pols try to be a little dignified when making them. For a senior U.S. Senator (and former second on the national party Presidential ticket), this is embarrassing.

He's right. It is embarrassing.

If you weren't able to view the new Lieberman 'bear cub' ad, it's up at Youtube now. And you can see it there. And, remember, it was reportedly not made by one of Lieberman's grandchildren. Apparently, an actual adult was involved.

About that weird Lieberman ad attacking Ned Lamont as Lowell Weicker's stalking horse, TPM Reader AS writes in ...

It's about the perception of strength: Lamont as Weicker's lapdog (or in this case, bear cub). Dovetails perfectly with his other game, which is that Lamont is lapdog of the lunatic left wing Internet nerds. Whether Lamont tacks center or left, Lieberman the groundwork will be there for arguing he's somebody's puppet and not his own man. And it's not an attack that's easily defended: how do you get up and say, "I'm not so-and-so's lapdog?" Weak. Added bonuses: (1) It's somewhat Rovian. Rove's rule is to attack the enemy's strength, hard. One of Lamont's strengths as a personality is that he's a self-made, home grown Connecticut success. (2) It turns one of Lamont's primary lines of attack back around, namely, that Lieberman is Bush's/Hannity's lapdog.

I may not be subtle enough to understand Carter Eskew's genius in putting this ad together. But I have to go with the brain I have. And to me it's a dumb ad. If Lieberman wants to go with the Internet nerd argument, he should go with that argument. Getting into Lowell Weicker just makes him seem like he's in a time warp, in his own little world. And that goes to what's actually Lieberman's big liability, the perception that he's out of it, out of touch with his constituents' views. And, honestly, a bit whacked.

As for it not being easy to respond to, I don't agree with that. The pretty obvious and I'd figure pretty effective response would be for Lamont to say, "What's Joe Lieberman talking about?" I think most voters would think, Yeah, what is Lieberman talking about?

Sounds totally above board. Shirlington Limo, the outfit embroiled in "Hookergate", not only had Duke Cunningham pressing DHS to give them a big contract. But Shirlington CEO Christopher Baker was trying to get advance payment on the contract before he'd even gotten the contract.

Like I said before, I've got no horse in this race. Or something like that. But is Joe Lieberman serious about this silly 'bear cub' ad attacking Ned Lamont as a cat's paw of Lowell Weicker? (See Hartford Courant article on it here.) This has to be the most ridiculous ad I've ever seen. It's not even that it's mean. It's just too silly and stupid to believe. Does anyone really believe that Lieberman is in this fix because of Lowell Weicker? And pace Weicker, Lieberman and ad creator Carter Eskew, but even in Connecticut, Lowell Weicker has been out of the Senate for a really long time. I don't want to say he's ancient history. But he's sort of ancient history.

I mean, maybe the next ad will be on the Missile Gap or school busing. Or maybe Lamont's failure to bring the Patriots to Hartford.

I'm not sure I even have the heart to ask my Lieberman pals what's up with this. Lieberman's trying to show CT Dems he's not out of touch but he's showing them he's out of his mind.

We've known for some time that Shirlington Limousine, the DC outfit that reportedly procured and ferried congressmen and prostitutes to Cunningham fraudster Brent Wilkes 'poker parties', also got a $21 million contract to provide DC-area shuttle service and limo drivers for the Department of Homeland Security -- despite the fact that Shirlington and its owner had a long history of felony convictions, bankruptcies, repossessed vehicles and revoked licenses. (See on-going coverage here.)

From today's DHS oversight hearings, we learned, though not surprisingly, that no other than Duke Cunningham himself lobbied with DHS to get Shirlington the contract. In fact, according to an affidavit submitted to the Committee by Shirlington owner Christopher Baker, Duke wrote a letter to DHS in support of Shirlington's bid.

But according to DHS, that letter from Cunningham has disappeared.

So here we are. Tonight, the House Democrats voted to strip Rep. Bill Jefferson of his seat on the House Ways & Means Committee. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pushed very hard for this. And it's created a lot of controversy and tension within the Democratic caucus. If you're interested in some of the backstory and play-by-play, see Paul Kiel's on-going coverage.

A couple months ago, a conservative research group scrutinized Rep. Allan Mollohan, Democratic Co-Chair of the House Ethics committee and found a troubling pattern of Mollohan getting earmarks for West Virginians with whom he also had made real estate investments. Shortly afterward, Pelosi forced Mollohan to step down from the Ethics Committee. The Mollohan case is qualitatively different from the Jefferson case. But it was the right decision to ask him to step aside.

Now, isn't it time we detect a pattern here?

How many Republican representatives and senators are currently under investigation? Probably a dozen, easily.

And what about Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee?

Appropriations is the committee that spends the money. It's probably, by definition, the most corruptable committee in the House. Internestingly, Lewis was the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee when Duke Cunningham was getting all that loot for Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade. As Chair of that subcommittee, Lewis had to sign off on all that stuff. Perhaps he was just oblivious to what was happening, though according to a knowledgable source, Brent Wilkes says Lewis and he have been tight for years. Presumably investigators are looking into this.

Two of Lewis's key staffers -- one current (Jeffrey Shockey), one now working as a lobbyist (Letitia White) -- are also being investigated.

Lewis is closely tied with lobbyist Bill Lowery, who's also under investigation as part of the expanded Cunningham probe.

A week ago, a former defense contractor came forward to say that in exchange for a multimillion dollar earmark, Lewis demanded that the defense contractor not only hire Lowery as his lobbyist but also cut Lowery in for stock options in his company.

(For details on the Lewis investigation, see TPMmuckraker.com's excellent coveragehere).

For Chairman Lewis, though, it's business as usual. As far as I know, the fact that he's at the center of a criminal probe that began with the investigation of Duke Cunningham hasn't put the future of Lewis' chairmanship in any doubt at all. It's all business as usual. Yesterday, the President called Lewis to thank him for moving another spending bill through the House. "I called Chairman Lewis this morning to congratulate him on getting a good supplemental out of the House of Representatives," said the President at his press conference yesterday. "It's a supplemental that meets our numbers, and meets the requirements for a good bill."

Has anyone seen a talking head, an editorial page, anyone suggesting it may not be appropriate for Rep. Lewis to be in charge of House earmarks while all this is going on? If you have, let me know.

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) still deciding what position to take on Net Neutrality; same with Sen. Mikulski (D-MD).