What do you do when the people you represent want to be represented by someone else? What do you do when the your highest approval ratings come from members of the party you claim to differentiate yourself from? What do you do when you’re down and desperate?
You call in some Democrats with bona fides, and keep the public–especially bloggers who happen to be both constituents and registered Democrats–the hell out. (See “The Adventures of Maura and CTBob” for the story of the newest additions to Joe’s Enemy List).
So unless you were living under a rock, you heard that former President Bill Clinton came to Waterbury yesterday to rally the troops behind soon-to-be former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. The visit was announced last week, just before the latest Quinnipiac Poll was released showing that Ned Lamont holds a 4 point lead over Lieberman.
Receiving far less hullabaloo than the Clinton visit, another staunchly liberal Democrat made the trip into Connecticut in a futile attempt to raise Lieberman’s street cred with voters. Barbara Boxer doesn’t seem to have much in common with Senator Lieberman. After all, she stood up to the Bush administration by voting against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts AND Samuel Alito. Starting yesterday, she has at least one thing in common with our much maligned junior Senator: a detachment from reality. Just watch the video, keeping in mind what you know about Barbara Boxer’s record on choice as well as what you know about Lieberman, and ask yourself whether she is off her rocker when insisting that she and Lieberman have the same position.
I’m always happy to meet a Senator, whether or not a Senator is happy to meet me, but I decided to forgo a trip to Norwalk for Barbara Boxer. I opted instead to preserve my energy (Blogger Juice® – we all live off it) for the Clinton event. One ex-President trumps any number of current and soon-to-be-former Senators in my book. I mean, President Clinton is larger than life and I’d have loved to come back to my keyboard and gush about how electrifying it was to be in the same room as a Democratic Party icon. That wouldn’t make for very interesting reading, now would it?
So I get to downtown Waterbury and park across from the Palace Theater around 2:15pm. At this point the road is not yet closed, but the line to get in is already extending for more than a city block. I turned on my camera, and accompanied one of the DumpJoe.com guys to pass out kiss buttons and show off some of the signs he made to the folks patiently waiting to get in. What struck me was just how many people wanted the kiss buttons (though I shouldn’t be surprised).
I also expected (and got) some dirty looks from the crowd we were walking through, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the remarks I can only describe as just plain hateful. They were coming from people who ostensibly support the man who is willing to “agree to disagree” about this country’s continued involvement in a bloody civil war. If these people can get so riled up at the sight of a “Hi Bill, it’s still time for a change” sign, let’s just say I’m glad we kept moving.
I really wished I had a ticket, but I wasn’t willing to give all of my personal info to a Lieberman staffer. The Secret Service was welcome to it (and I’ve yet to verify whether a social security number is required–though the SSA sheds some light), but I’d prefer to cut out the vengeful middlemen thank-you-very-much. Close to the start of the event, after the police had shooed all of us non-ticket holders down past the barricades, Jane asks if I’m ready to go in. I don’t know and I’m not interested in knowing how she got the tickets, but I handed my camera off to a friend and followed Jane to the door. While walking the line passing out kiss buttons, I overheard several announcements that no cameras or video cameras were allowed–and I didn’t want a big hold-up on my way into the event.
I was about 10 yards behind Jane, and had just gotten to the door when I was told that no backpacks were allowed in the theater. I could see Jane showing her ticket and presumed that she’d save me a seat, so I bolted to my car to drop off my bag. When I came back but a minute later, a familiar face was waiting for me. It was the Lieberman staffer who exuded so much confidence about Lieberman’s ability to change minds in New Britain when speaking at the DTC meeting in June who reached out and ripped the ticket from my hand.
It’s one thing to tell me I’m not welcome, it’s quite another to actually steal something from me. I insisted on getting the ticket back, but I had walked right into a childish game of “keep-away”. I was no longer in front of the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut but rather standing on the playground at “Connecticut for Lieberman” elementary. I was ready to go play tetherball or four-square when back-up arrived–for the Lieberman staffer.
It was someone a little higher up on the Lieberman food-chain (I can tell this because he didn’t steal anything from me) who came over with a police officer and said this about me:
“Officer, he’s a known protester”
As opposed to, you know, a known sanctimonious, power-hungry, opportunistic career politician like Joe Lieberman. As opposed to the first Democrat to speak out against President Clinton and the first Democrat to speak up for President Bush.
I bristled at the charge that I was a “known protester”. Am I not also a Democrat? How about a constituent of Senator Lieberman? How about a fan of Bill Clinton?
Nope. Because I am a pretty visible supporter of Ned Lamont, and because I’ve made appearances at a couple of Lieberman campaign stops to see what he has to say (and to ask him to commit to the Primary), I was not allowed in to see Bill Clinton.
This is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s campaign in 2004. Sure, you could come in to his campaign events, but just sign away your conscience on the dotted line at the bottom of this loyalty oath. A strange move for someone who is working hard to claim that there’s a great deal of distance between himself and the hugely unpopular current President. It’s not surprising that Senator Lieberman is running his campaign events using the Karl Rove playbook. After all, the last time Senator Lieberman held an event that was open to the public he had to face dissent. There’s no room for that in the world of “Connecticut for Lieberman.”