Palavering Pundits

Senator Joe LiebermanToday every political expert has an opinion about what Joe Lieberman’s fight to retain his Senate seat means.  These are the same experts who less than six months ago thought that Lieberman was a safe shoe-in for re-election. Today they are undaunted and in heavy knowledge-dispensing mode.

I remember the expert chatter when Tom Ammiano’s write-in campaign forced incumbent Mayor Willie Brown into a runoff for re-election.  The cognoscenti were sure that it meant that San Francisco was even more wacko left than anyone had thought.  The commentators went on and on and on about what that primary results meant for the city’s future. The airwaves were frothing with revealed truths spewed by those in the know who somehow hadn’t foreseen the election results.

I am a San Francisco conservative (“liberal Democrat” anywhere else.)  I voted for Tom against Willie.  Strangely, none of the tons of post-primary analysis touched on my motivation.

I voted for Tom because he was and is an honest, caring, committed man.  Willie was as and is an amoral, self-centered, political being.  What Willie said he’d do was more in line with my views, but I never knew what he’d really do when the money was strewn on the table.  Tom’s policies and outlook were part Pollyanna and part Frankenstein, but I always believed he would talk about them and deal straight. I wanted him to win because I was so tired of official sleaze.

Senator Lieberman has been imperial and Washington-centered in his campaign.  He also is out-of-step with the majority of the country and of his state’s liberal constituents on issue of how to prosecute the Iraqi war.

Ned LamontI don’t live in Connecticut, but until this week I would have voted for Ned Lamont.

Lieberman just wasn’t listening, and it sure seemed like he didn’t think he should have to listen. He was a Senator, so why should he?

His campaign couldn’t stop being patronizing.  The message was “If the voters only understood how wise the great Senator was, they would be certain to agree with him.”

Every new insider endorsement and inside-the-beltway heavy hitter standing with him on the platform reinforced Lieberman’s genuine incomprehension of his constituents’ views.

Sometime in the last seven days, as defeat seemed probable, Lieberman woke up.  He’s now saying he’s gotten the voters’ message. He understands that his moderation has been perceived – if not actually has been – as slavish pro-Bush toadyism.

It may be too late for Senator Lieberman.  The polls this morning said he was still trailing.

Whatever the outcome, I am interested in open-ended exit polls and surveys which will tell us why voters made their decision.  I wonder how much was radical frothing and how much was middle-of-the-road feelings of being unheard.

Yes, there are serious policy differences between Lieberman and the majority of Connecticut Democrats , especially on the war.  Yet, I can respect and vote for a person who doesn’t agree with me 100%.  I cannot support someone who is self-centered and fundamentally untrustworthy, even when I like their policies more than their opponent’s.

Let’s hope that the political analysts who didn’t see this primary challenge coming do some research, talk to a representative sample of voters, and give us true analysis of facts, before they chew on the results and spew their breathless – and possible worthless – opinions.  Let the pundits pause.

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