Josh Marshall

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Atrios says he's not sure he buys the presidential-run-embitterment theory of Lieberman's lameness.

I'm really not sure I buy the "Joe got all pouty when no one wanted him to be president" theory. He was pretty wankerific before the presidential primary campaign heated up (and, of course, during it.)

True enough. I'd only add that Joe's rejection in the primaries was pretty evident from the outset. So pretty much everything after mid-late 2003, in my book at least, comes in the embitterment era.

New Treasury Secretary Paulson says he's eager to phase out Social Security too.

So let's think, Bush, Boehner, McCrery, Paulson and a bunch others all say they're gunning to phase out Social Security again next year if the Republicans hold Congress. Is it time now that we can assume they're telling the truth?

So back to yesterday's question: what happened to Joe Lieberman?

Was he angling for the Sec Def gig? Was he going for the highly improbable and fairly lame honor of dual nomination in the home state?

I don't know Lieberman. To the best of my recollection, I've never spoken to the guy. But I have a lot of friends who know him really well. And from them I get a story that has the ring of truth to me and squares with my own experience of the last half dozen years, though that's from a more distant view.

In their view, it all goes back to 2000.

Remember Ann Richards classic line about George Bush? "He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."

Well, something similar about Lieberman. Al Gore picked Joe Lieberman in 2000. And fairly quickly he starts thinking he's better at running for president than Al. As one close-up Joe-watcher puts it (and I'm paraphrasing) Lieberman was terrible in 2000. And as he travelled the country he was more and more alienated from rank and file Democrats. Only he thought he'd done great.

Let me pick up the thread from another close-up Joe-watcher: "My guess. He watched Gore during the campaign and decided he could do better. He started thinking of the day he'd run on his own. This was first evidenced after the election when he sold Gore out on the soldiers vote issue. Here he's on the ticket and he is pandering to the right to make himself look good. I think he decided that he wins even if Gore loses ... Then he runs in '04 and sees that his success in 2000 as a candidate was not really his but Gore's. He was a great #2 but not a free standing great man. He was rejected. And he became bitter. Very bitter."

I think this is right. Lieberman always played to above-it-all Beltway opinion. But something changed after early 2004.

Republicans friends of mine point to his Iraq position and say it's all about Iraq. And quite a lot of it is about Iraq. But it's not just his position on the issue. Nor is it even that he doesn't cater to the views of the "base" of the party. It's been a lot more than that, at least for the last two-plus years. He's been something like willfully contemptuous of anyone who has strong partisan identification as a Democrat, notwithstanding their ideological hue. And I suspect that embitterment over the exploded sense of entitlement growing out of 2004 is at the root of it.

No more Mr. Nice Guy on Social Security phase out.

Majority Leader Boehner pledges that if Republicans retain control of Congress "we’re going to get serious about" phasing out Social Security.

TPM Election Central got a copy of the flyer the Lieberman campaign is distributing claiming Lamont is soft on race and civil rights. You'll want to see this.

See the flyer here in the TPM Document Collection.

Two TPM Readers on Joe ...

TM: Like you, I've always liked Joe Lieberman. If he had an honest opinion Iraq differing from most Dems, I'd be more able to accept it - but his 'buttering-up of Bush' astounds me. Particularly, as this Congress, almost monthly, seems to willingly concede more and more of its Constitutional powers to the Executive Branch. I'm even more stunned by the willingness of old-style Conservatives to rarely, if ever, question or even discuss the erosion of power in the Legislative Branch. I'm old enough to remember when the prime priorities of Conservatives were decreasing the size and spending of the Federal Government and loudly decrying and battling any attempt by the Feds to introduce any program that, in any way, decreases Personal Privacy and Liberty.

LG: Wonder if you’ve read MYDD today – Matt Stoller references Josh’s posting and then brings up all the times this “principled” Democrat has sold out his party and America. From the Clinton Healthcare debacle to the Lewinsky Affair to his undermining of Gore during the election (and not just the Cheney debate, either). I’m just wondering, then, why Josh finds Joe’s comeuppance so painful to watch. From my vantage point: I’m cheering the fall of an ongoing thorn in the side of the Democratic Party and one that needed to be pulled out long ago.

Former boss of gay-baiting Ohio GOP emailer says Stricklands must go to court to prove they're not gay.

There was a good article in the Hartford Courant Sunday about Lieberman, and his oblivious self-immolation.

The whole thing is painful to watch. At least to me. I still can't help liking the guy.

But he brought it on himself. And he really has no one to blame but himself. Hubris, certainly. But even more than that the obliviousness that is born of hubris. He turns out to have been as oblivious about what was happening in his own state as he was about what was happening in Iraq.

People on Lieberman's side talk a lot about him as a man of principle sticking to his beliefs in spite of public opposition. But it's one thing to stick to your guns when you know you're going to pay a price, quite another to stick to them when you're totally out of touch with the consequences.

Set aside the great issues of the day that are implicated in this race. I'm fascinated by it on a personal level -- or at the level where personalities and character intersect with the subterranean tides of politics. What happened to this guy? No one seems to have had any grasp of the brittleness of his hold on the support of his constituents. Was it the sting of his rejection in 2004? The possibility of getting the Sec Def nod?

There's a great 10,000 word magazine article in this story.