Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Tuesday, August 05, 2003
 
Campaign Watch

Various bloggers and commenters in left blogtopia have lately been suggesting that Joe Liebermant is essentially a Republican disguised as a Democrat. This hardly looks reasonable; his voting record, aside from his understandable loyalty to the financial services industry which is critical in his home state, is solidly in the Democratic mainstream.

But Slate and Matt Yglesias have raised a more telling criticism that explains why I can't see supporting Lieberman in the primaries. Electability isn't just issues, it's also a candidate's political skills. And Lieberman doesn't have what it takes. He isn't a very gifted speaker or campaigner, but I doubt his toughness even more.

Part of this may be that he's simply out of practice. He won for the Senate easily his last two times out, so except for 2000 - and his weak performance for Gore is part of my doubts of him today - he hasn't been in a tight race since he defeated Lowell Weicker in 1988. I don't know the story of that campaign, but I do know that Weicker is a man of decency and integrity. He was from the original Republican Party, a party of political moderation and personal honor that is now nearly extinct. In his moment of greatest national fame, as a member of the Watergate Committee, Weicker took the quaint position that a President, even one of his own party, was not above the law. It's safe to assume that his campaign reflected that.

If 2004 is close, as it probably will be, we know what to expect from Bush and Rove. They will run a campaign that makes Francis Urquhart look like Little Lord Fauntleroy - or Lowell Weicker. It will be rough on whoever the Democrats nominate, especially since Bush will use talk radio and the media to do his dirty work for him, while denouncing any effective counterattack as dirty campaigning and personal smears. Bluntly, I don't believe that the guy who apologized in Florida for the position that illegal votes shouldn't count has the toughness or the tactical skill to win that fight. In fact, I think that Rove would grind him into lunch meat.



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