Waaay back in November 2008 I put my feelings about Joe Lieberman on the permanent record. In a post entitled File Under: Teflon Joe (formerly filed under: Are You Fucking Kidding Me?), I pulled few punches and even allowed myself for a few fantasies. Of course he didn’t burn out, he faded away, and now he slithers off into semi-retirement (certainly he will turn up on the consulting circuit, turning expensive tricks for the powers-that-be). If there was a more shamelessly opportunistic, self-serving, solipsistic jackoff than Joe Lieberman inside the beltway this past decade, I can’t think of one (and that’s saying a lot, because there is no shortage of shamelessly opportunistic, self-serving, solipsistic jackoffs ’round these parts).
Anyway, for old time’s sake, here’s a blast from the past, in its unedited entirety.
The rumors of Joe Lieberman’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Damn. Personally, I wanted them to call this guy. Joe Lieberman didn’t need to be ignored, or voted out, or censured. He needed to be whacked. Politically speaking, of course. Mostly. I mean, let’s review the low-lights: motherfucker helps seal the deal as VP nominee–for the Republicans during the Florida fiasco in 2000. Promptly launches his ’04 campaign, which, rounding up, he had precisely 0% chance of winning.
(Side note: that he even made it as Gore’s VP choice was astonishing, considering he was the one Democrat who attempted to out-sleaze the GOP with his nose-holding piety once the wolves began to circle the wagons, post-Lewinsky. Of course, Clinton brought much of that mess entirely upon himself, but that’s neither here nor there: at worst, Holy Joe could have just shut the fuck up and stayed out of the way. Help, don’t hurt. That is your job. And, if there was some infinitesimal chance that any politician could ever be genuinely outraged by the sexual peccadilloes of another pol, much less the sitting-president, Joe’s opportunistic grandstanding was very obviously what it’s always been all about: himself. On the other hand, Gore was quite aware of this, and chose him anyway. That right there was almost sufficient reason for him to deserve the unthinkable (i.e., actually having victory snatched from him by the most inept and unqualified asshole who ever has–or ever will–run for the highest office in America. Indeed, Gore suffered so many self-inflicted wounds, he could (and should, and likely will) become a case study for how not to run a campaign). Granted, McCain gave him a run for his money with his ill-spirited, running of the bullshit debacle, but unlike McCain, Gore was actually qualified for the gig. It was his for the taking, and he consistently found ways to trip over himself, like a buffoon who couldn’t make the cut as one of the Three Stooges. And the primary reason Gore tapped Lieberman was to illustrate that he was down with the disdain; he not only approved Joe’s sanctimony, he encouraged it. Anything to distance himself from a very popular president whom he deemed unfit to campaign for him.
All of which is to say: let the record be very clear here: even back in the day–difficult as it is to imagine a day before 9/11, before Bush–Lieberman was the wrong person at the wrong time, chosen as a VP pick for completely cynical reasons in a spectacularly shortsighted act of calculated vetting. In other words, he was perfect. If he had just kept his huge, pale head out of the crossfire, he could have appropriately been relegated to the dust heap of political history, a Trivial Pursuit question that a handful of people, twenty years from now, might have answered correctly. But, of course, he seized the opportunity to be the most bellicose and hawkish Democrat in the pre-and-post rollout of the Iraq shitstorm. And that is truly saying something, when you consider how eagerly future candidates like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards sprinted to be the first ones in line to wave the flag and bomb the bad guys. Hillary, making her own very cynical and unforgivable accommodations to the neo-con nitwits, paid the ultimate price down the road, and could never run in the other direction fast enough to escape the shadow of what she had done. There, in a few sentences: the most succinct summation of why two sure-fire Democrat presidents never ascended to the throne; for Gore it was tragedy disguised as comedy; with Hillary there was never anything funny about it.)
So where did we leave off? Oh yeah. Iraq hurt everyone who climbed on the bandwagon, including Joe, who endured the humiliation of having to run as an Independent. But, as he always does, he hung on. And how did he reward the voters (and colleagues) who, when push came to shove, ultimately had his back? By bending over backwards, with that inimitable combination of bitterness and pomposity, to do everything in his power to ensure that John Mccain beat Barack Obama. Using the same unfortunate (and, in many instances, illogical) types of talking points that sold the Iraq War, and argued for America’s continued presence there, he hit the road and appealed to the worst aspects of America to make his case. Like an overly eager, brown-nosing student of Rove’s most insidious tactics, Joe questioned Obama’s patriotism, and whether or not he’d be able to keep good, loyal Americans safe. You know, kind of the way Bush has. Or McCain would. Just about any normal person would get a hernia trying to contort themselves into the twisted positions Lieberman took. Of course, it is not twisted, if one considers that the only person more consistently wrong about Iraq than Lieberman was McCain. History will show that he was, in fact, the right VP for the man who did not choose him. If anyone has been more shameless and brazen than Lieberman in his quest to maintain political power purely for the sake of having political power, it’s McCain. They deserved each other, and it made sense, when Obama won, that they both get escorted into the old folks home together, where they can beat their chests, yank out their hair, and bemoan the good old days when lying, self-aggrandizing used car salesmen could paint themselves as moral paragons.
And so…how is it possible, on any level, that Lieberman has survived, yet again? He makes The Terminator look like James Dean. There are too many clichés, all of them utterly appropriate, to go around here: does he actually have nine lives? How many pictures of prominent Democrats in bed with strippers does he carry in his wallet? How could the devil even want to trade down for his lily-white, sullied soul? How has he not been found, in a back alley, inside a new Cadillac, with an ice-pick shoved through the back of his neck? How has he not just spontaneously combusted from the sheer excess of toxic bile built up inside of him?
I have no answers to any of these questions. But, with the benefit of a few days hindsight, I can only nod my head and tip my hat to our president-elect. He is not of this earth. He is, in fact, the anti-Lieberman. Given a righteous opportunity to ensure that the closest thing we’ve seen to an actual Benedict Arnold in our time is escorted into the obscure infirmities of old age–as he so obviously deserves to be–Obama has shown his true colors. How can you realistically expect to be seen as (much less actually be) an agent of change if one of your first acts is to retaliate against such a pitiful insect as Joe Lieberman now is? (Granted, it’s exceedingly tough to swallow the notion that he not only lives to see another day, but that he retains his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Then again, let’s see how long that lasts.) In any event, I think Obama is seeing the bigger picture here, and understanding the long-term (or, simply beyond short-term) pros and cons of how he handles this situation. No one would shed any tears over Lieberman’s corpse (again, politically speaking), but why make a martyr out of the insufferable one? Why give the ankle-biting blowhards on the Right any opportunity to say “See!” or “I told you so!” regarding the new sheriff in town.
Perhaps more important (and there is no small amount of Machiavellian overtones here), what more effective way to neuter, or at least shame, Lieberman, than by throwing his cur-ass a bone? Of course, it’s fair to counter that if Lieberman has shown anything, it’s that he is beyond shame, and that he’ll continue to do anything and everything in the monomaniacal service of…himself. Still, he’ll get his comeuppance, whether it’s in 2012, or in a few months (stay tuned). Or perhaps Obama is even smarter than that, and recognizes that Lieberman is like Sgt. Barnes in Platoon: incapable of being killed; the only thing that can kill Joe Lieberman is Joe Lieberman. I’m happy to hand him a gun, just in case. Or, you know, we can see if “Jimmy the Gent” Conway has some spare time…