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Posted by on Jan 27, 2008 in Politics | 7 comments

Clintons play the Joe Lieberman card


No, I’m not talking about voting for the war. I’m talking about changing the rules in the middle of the game.

What angered me about Joe Lieberman’s Independent bid in 2006 more than anything else was his decision to entertain such an option only after losing the Democratic Primary.

He decided that he would play by the rules of the Democratic Party and ask to be their nominee for the Senate. He insisted that he was a Democrat and that he wanted their blessing in his run for the Senate.

When he failed to achieve that, he turned around and insisted that he didn’t need the Democratic blessing in the first place. In essence, he changed the rules midstream. Why didn’t he just run as an Independent from the beginning and cut through the pretense of representing the Democratic Party? The answer: because he only cared about winning. Had he declared himself an Independent in the very beginning he might have alienated enough older, loyal Democrats and lost the seat to the Democratic Primary winner.

Moreover, it wasn’t clear at the time that the Connecticut GOP was going to nominate such a loser as Alan Schlesinger on its ticket. So Lieberman took a chance and placed his marbles, once again, in the Democratic primary basket. He figured he could win – first against no serious competition – and then against insurgent Ned Lamont. Most honest people would have decided after losing the August primary that their gambit had failed and that their efforts to secure the Democratic nomination – and failure to do so – would have ended the race right there.

But Lieberman decided to do what no other politician had ever done before: change the rules in the middle of the election and say “that whole Democratic primary thing doesn’t matter.” Because the GOP ran such a disaster of its own, the gambit paid off in the end. But it permanently severed all remaining trust between Lieberman and the Democratic Party. His endorsement of McCain this year comes as no surprise, even though he dishonestly promised to support the Democrat in the 2008 election.

What does this have to do with Hillary Clinton?

Well, it looks as if she’s also trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.

The Democratic National Committee voted to banish the delegates from Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries before the February 5 deadline. Whether or not this was a justified punishment, all the major candidates AGREED last fall to abide by the DNC rule and refuse to campaign in either state. While both candidates offered stealth national TV ads into those states, they promised to adhere to the overall DNC ban on those states’ delegates. Until now.

In what Matthew Yglesias calls Calvinball, Hillary Clinton is now suggesting that the Florida votes should count after all – mostly because polling has her ahead in Florida and she’s desperate to get the media to focus on Florida after her South Carolina rout. She has changed the rules in the middle of the game, just as Joe Lieberman did in 2006. Democratic voters should not reward her rank dishonesty and should thoroughly ignore any comments about a Florida “victory.”

Hers really is the politics of the past.