Malaria. Mumps. Mauling By A Bear. All Things We Will Miss More Than You.
When the “end” came for Senator Joe Lieberman (I-“only-give-a-fuck-about-me”—CT), it was hoped for by many here on the left that there would be more to it than what we got a week or so ago. More smoke. More fire. A bruising primary battle that he would again lose and again spit on the process with another third party run that would end this time with an exhausting loss and a bicuspid-loosening, lachrymose speech to end all bicuspid-loosening, lachrymose speeches.
Instead, we got the unexpected, punk-assed bow-out before the predicted knock-out…and a pretty damned lachrymose speech anyways.
We will take it.
You see, when you get a bow out like that, it means that said candidate's internal polling in-state is not merely on the negative end of things. It means that it is abysmal to the point where it can not be centrifugally spun to even neutral.
This final Senatorial term and his craven shenanigans during it soiled his reputation in Connecticut to the point where the number of those who'd backed him for the last twenty years, “just 'cuz”, was swamped by the number of those who'd begun to find themselves pissed off by him as far back as the 2000 Presidential election when he patty-caked with his direct opponent Dick Cheney(!), and the steadily increasing number of middle-grounders who found his post-September 11th hawk-fuck behavior growing more reprehensible by the month.
It would have been schadenfreudilly-icious fun to see it end for him all Santorum-like on a balloon and confetti-free stage with a small band of broken-hearted nutmegger supporters and a doddering, stiff-lipped John McCain by his side as the TV talking heads all went on about the sadness of it all / warrior carried out on his shield / “he was his own man” yada-yada they reflexively spew out of their mouths. “Just 'cuz”.
But instead, with his typical courage…Joe ran away rather than get run out. We'll never know just how awful the internals actually were, but let's just say that the numbers were not based on some random “it just happened”, shrug your shoulders “Wha?” anomaly. In politics, things happen for a reason. And Joe Lieberman started seeding the ground early for his abandonment by the Connecticut electorate.
In 1998, he let it be known to the generation of Democratic politicos that came after him and ascended to power without his king-making-thank-you-very-much! that he would not be ignored, when he came out as the one Dem to most obviously hop a cheap-ass hobo-ride on the right wing's “Get Bill Clinton Express” during the impeachment hearings. This was one of the first times I remember hearing about Lieberman's oh-so-convenient “moral” (pronounced by Joe in that annoying as hell, cloying “moooooaaaaaawww-raaawwwwllll” intonation) nature. It would sadly, not be the fucking last.
Two years later in 2000, having ridden the wave of fame from his standing alone against Bill Clinton's penis or something like that, we found Joe again on the national stage, having been chosen as the Vice Presidential candidate by then veep Al Gore in a stupidly misguided attempt to curry favor with the mewling, chicken-necked scolds of the voter base. Lieberman not only brought us all the new word for the opposite of voter excitement (“Joe-mentum”), but also let everyone know who his friends truly were when he he rhetorically gelded himself and handed over on the world's smallest silver platter said separated goods to his opponent, the famously venomous Dick Cheney during their lone Vice Presidential debate that season. His relationship with Cheney that night was like that of a sozzled patrician reveler at a dinner party in Georgetown who realizes upon grabbing the last canapé off the hors d'œuvres tray that a fellow “Villager” has grabbed the other end of it—where they laughingly break the fucking thing in half, each wolf it down and then cut some cushy deal two weeks later as they hack the 18th hole at Swan Point to bits because “Hey, guys like us…we have to get along, right?”.
Throw in his droopy-jowled capitulation to Bush, Cheney and the Brooks Brothers Rioters during the later 2000 recount fight, totally undermining the top-of-the-ticket push to count every vote and his passive / aggressive pattern became clear to all. Albeit a bit too clear for ol' Joe, though…
As the year 2004 bought him back into the limelight. That is, if you consider “the limelight” the bare periphery of the goddamned political stage where you could just make out his silhouette where the haze of the spotlight ends and stagehand-hiding darkness begins. He was ten things beyond an afterthought in the 2004 Democratic Presidential primaries and that universal opinion evidently bent what was left of the needle of his wildly spinning internal moral compass for fucking good. Sure, it's doubtful that his almost metronomic fellating of George Bush's divisive Iraq War in the face of its bullshitteousness (which as said bullshitteousness increased, so oddly did his support for it) didn't have a thing to do with Dems running from him on the national stage like he had the disease-of-the-day SARS shooting out of his pores at them, huh?. He took offense that Dems took offense over his playing doormat to the GOP's shit-covered shoes whenever possible and never looked back after that should-have-been-ruinous political season. Should-have-been-ruinous. Alas.
Shoot ahead to 2006 when even Nutmeg State Dems found him distastefully bitter and chose another Democrat, Ned Lamont to be their standard bearer for the party. Joe went to the mattresses at this point, invoking his alter ego Droopy Dog's mantra “You know what? That makes me mad.” and effectively laid waste to what was left of his Democratic bona fides with his third party run for the slot. It was going to be a win / win for him. If he won, he'd thumb his nose at the party he'd screwed into despising him, and even if he lost he'd split the vote so the “ungrateful” Dems couldn't possibly win, thus handing the seat over to his canapé-sharing palsie-walsies in the G.O.P. Scenario Number One came to pass, and from that point forward, he would be led only by his aforementioned (cue the heroic-but-dated Frank Capra movie music) “moooooaaaaaawww-raaawwwwllll nature”.
Which meant nad-kicking anyone and any policy that he simply disliked because it originated from or benefited the party he'd been abandoning since his supposedly canny shanking of Bill Clinton in '98. Hell, as far back as his first term really, since he giddily backed George Bush the Senior's initial Gulf War in 1991. People forget about that little shot across the bow.
It was all downhill and ugly on big, square wheels after that for ol' Joey “Shanks”. From his unctuous, drama-queeny dithering on who to caucus with in the Senate and playing the Dems for chumps (not that hard of a thing, really) by invoking his magical, key Senate vote in return for attendance at key leadership meetings, only to run back to Mitch McConnell and crew with the “Ooh, Ooh! Here's what they're gonna do!” dirt, to his dude-who-will-not-leave-the-party-even-though-the-host's-gotta-go-to-work-the-next-day level of continued support for the war in Iraq after everyone else saw it for the debacle it was, to his bilious backing of Connecticut's Catholic-run Hospitals refusing to administer the morning after pill on the religious whims of their owners to rape victims (Yes…rape…VICTIMS!), which prompted his infamous “It's only a short ride to another hospital” callous-speak, his descent was like un-unwatchable blurry footage of a wild car crash from some cheesy “You Gotta See This!” late night reality video show. He'd campaign with his comrade-in-hypocrisy John McCain during the latter's 2008
stumble for President and then…then give a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008 that showed us all the bold difference between “Country Crazy” (Zell Miller) and “DINO Diabolical” (Lieberman himself). After President Obama's election and the Dems increasing their Senate numbers to where Lieberman's passive-aggresive pussy-footing meant even less, he was reduced to the occasional “moooooaaaaaawww-raaawwwwllll” pontification on whatever vote it was that would move him to be that ineffectual old man yelling at clouds in the sky.
Until now. Those bad internal polls and a little bird's tale of less-than-good responses from potential donors on an initial reach-out for a 2012 run were enough to squelch his hopes of torturing us with six more years of deeply felt moaning from that tom turkey neck of his.
Of course, just 48 hours ago, he let loose a spew of pride-bandaging nonsense about how he 'could have won if he chose to run' as political reporters' angle on him was shifting to how his once-considerable constituency had evaporated. His statement only went to prove the point that a self-aggrandizing, toothless leopard never really can change its spots. But just before all that and his retirement announcement, he desperately tried to pull one of the oldest and most transparent tricks in ye olde book of con-artistry. And that was his flexing what little power he had left in getting “Don't Ask—Don't Tell” repealed when he did and the way he did.
Take yourself back to high school, junior going into senior year—pretty much the stretch run of things and you'll probably remember this scenario either happening to you or saw it happen to any number of people: Kids who spent the last few chapters of their time there fucking off everything worth a damn—ditching every class they had, smoking in the stairwells, and acting like utterly self-centered tools to anyone who dared call them on these transgressions while simultaneously compounding the school's delinquency problem . All of a sudden as the end nears, they get it in their heads to come back to class, make up a few homework assignments and maybe slap together a project they should have been working on throughout and then expect that final, furtive burst of psuedo-conscientious activity to be the thing their entire student career is to be graded upon. “Pay no attention to my long legacy of assholery…how's about this fine poster board triptych and still-drying papier-mâché presentation on the life-cycle of the multitude-feeding, mother-fucking corn plant, huh?”
“I mean…I get a science medal for this, right?”
No.You. Do. Not.
Joe Lieberman was that dorkwad student for the entire second half of his Senate career, siding with the delinquents and thugs and being a general miscreant and pain-in-the-ass to everyone who expected better of him and let him know that they did. He comes to the obvious end of things and then, only then—did he suddenly figure it was finally okay to do a “gasp!” decent thing for some Americans who really needed it in the last session of Congress where he could really use some of that alleged capital he'd sat his wrinkled ass on for years. He is that asshole kid you will remember forever for overflowing all the toilets during lunch—when you were on one of them. He is the dude who thought it would be fun to mix the science class' magnesium flakes into the pottery class clay, thus blowing up the kiln and contaminating the gym with fumes for three months. During the winter. That dude…who wants you to instead remember for him for that excellent goddamned corn plant display he roughed off in the last three weeks of school. DADT repeal was great. But hey, it was the only decent thing to do…and special points are not awarded for doing what you are supposed to do, especially when in retrospect it is one of the only things you were supposed to do that you actually went out and did.
In a prizefight, you don't win 'cause you put together a pretty flurry in the last thirty seconds of each round after shambling about and tanking the first two minutes and thirty seconds of those rounds, because it never really fools the judges.
Only dive-taking bums do that. And Joe Lieberman…is a dive-taking bum.
I will not miss him, and neither will you. His bogus “moooooaaaaaawww-raaawwwwllll” nature will be an afterthought after countless afterthoughts before it. That passive-aggressive backstabbiness and craven ransom holding of votes that should have been simple-human-decency-based will not be thought of as ironic or crafty politicking, but rather as what they were—underhanded and self-serving. His migraine-inducing plays for integrity when confronted with his misdeeds, trotting out the sad, soggy old card of neo-cons everywhere—“I marched with Dr. King”—will absolutely not be missed. Real warriors of that time never have to bring that shit up out of context. Only post-mid-life-crisis ideological flip-floppers looking to cover their naked asses from rightful criticism work that mawkish angle out of the blue.
So, Joe…it ends…as bad things like root canals, IRS audits and weekend-long diarrheic bouts with Indian food poisoning always do. With the sufferer pained and worse for wear, but happier than a cat in a “Deadliest Catch” fish hold that the bad times are at long last over. Toodle-oooo, Joey, and I hope your future career at Fox is so quickly negotiated that when the Senate door swings shut to hit you where the Good Lord split you that it can only strike the vapor of whatever final legislative fart on the way out I know you'll decide to grace that august chamber with.
Here's a song to scoot out to. And please enjoy Oran's spoken word love poem at the 2:23 mark.