The hidden subtext behind Lieberman's threats
Many Democrats are justifiably upset with Joe Lieberman strongly suggesting that, if he doesn't get the nomination of the Connecticut Democratic party for re-election, he will leave the party and run as an independent.
Joe Lalli: Ned Lamont has already stated that he would support you if you won the Democratic nomination and Zell Miller once stated that he would always be a member of the Democratic party. Can you make similar promises?
LIEBERMAN: I'll always be a member of the Democratic party. I hope there's not a primary. I'm confident if there is one, I'll win it, but I'm not gonna rule out any other option for now because I feel so strongly that I can do better for the State of Connecticut for the next six years in the United States Senate that I want to give all the voters a chance to make that decision on Election day in November. I want to do it as a Democrat. If I didn't want to do it as a Democrat, I would choose to run in some other party, trust me. But I want to do it as a Democrat because I believe in the Democratic party, so really the choice is up to my fellow Democrats...
Joe says he "hopes there won't be a primary". But Ned Lamont is already declared and running. There already is a primary. So what's the deal with Joe's wistful desire for an unfettered path to the nomination? Joe wants Lamont to drop out, but Lamont obviously isn't going to do that at the Joe's request. So what is Joe tryng to accomplish here?
Joe is trying to force the Democratic party (both state and national) to force Lamont out. And he is threatening them if they don't do it.
What is interesting here is not so much that an incumbent politician wants his party to clear the field for his nomination. That kind of thing happens all the time in politics. But it usually happens behind the scenes with political operatives making deals with potential opponents (or, if that doesn't work, the occaisional threat).
What is interesting here is that Joe, who knows a lot about backroom politicking, feels it is necessary to go public with his (not-so-)subtle effort to force Lamont out. In fact, he hasn't just gone public with this, he has done it in the most threatening manner possibly, by leaving open the possibility that he may abandon the party completely.
What does this tell us? It tells us that Joe has lost the ability to get the Democratic party (both state and national) to do what he wants it to do. Joe is weak, and he knows it.
He has already called in all of his chits with the Connecticut Democratic party, forcing all of its elected leaders to come out and endorse him early in the race (even before Lamont announced). But that didn't stop Lamont from running. Nor did it quell the interest in his race. If anything, it has inflamed it.
Joe still wants Ned out. But he doesn't have any chits left to call. He's already blown his wad.
So threatening his party membership is the last arrow in his quiver.
Joe Lieberman is weak and he is a coward. He is so desirous of holding on to power that he doesn't want to risk losing it in an honest race.
No wonder he likes Bush so much.