Winning and losing
The emotional races are the hardest to lose. So many people had so much invested in beating Lieberman, and to see the race play out the way it did, had to be frustrating.
While the right is cheering their meager victory for a seriously damaged Lieberman, the fact is that the Lamont campaign was too cute by half. I saw their commercials, and while they were fun to watch, they didn't do the job.
I think, in August, Tom Swan, his campaign manager, wanted to localize the election, which was when they got in trouble and never got out of it. The ONLY reason to defeat Lieberman was Iraq, not any other reason. Lieberman threw on the nice guy persona and Lamont was running goofy commercials. They never got that they had to raise the level of their game.
People are pissing and moaning about the lack of help Lamont got, but with the polling against him, what were they going to do? Hedging bets was the name of the game. Famous people
could have helped, but the issue of the day was Iraq, and it's the winning issue. But instead, you got these cute, but unfocused commercials in the general election.
Swan, sorry to say, was more wedded to his ideas of good government than beating Lieberman. A great guy when running for local office, but the US Senate isn't a local office. This wasn't about good government, but Iraq.
When I was playing and coaching football, we would see new teams who had all these fancy plays inspired by the Madden video game. Well, we weren't playing Madden. They would try running plays and would be blitzed, hard. Ran complicated patterns? The quarterback would be sacked while the receivers were getting into place.
The fancy and the complicated looked great on paper, but in real life, they got hammered, because took to long to execute. On a good play, you could count on your line holding for five seconds, no more. If you didn't toss that ball, you were on your ass.
So while Lamont was impressing his online supporters, he wasn't telling the voters "A vote for Lieberman is a vote for Bush". That needed to be repeated over and over. It was the only message which mattered. People needed to go into that voting booth and know they were voting against Bush, not for Lamont.
A lot of people were pissed he was even a senator. There was considerable pressure on Corzine to pick either Frank Pallone or Rob Andrews for the seat.
Despite proven honesty and a good legislative record, Menendez had been sniped at from day one.
The one asset he had was Tom Kean, Jr.
Kean looked like a preppy snot and his campaign was designed to basically tar Menendez as that dirty spic from Union City. They accused him of being a crook, so much so that reporters had to step in and explain what happened, and when they did, he came off as a hero. But Kean ran months of negative commercials.
It was the kind of contempt he would have never had for a white candidate. Because there was no other reason for the hostility Menendez had from both within the party and the constant drumbeat about his dishonesty, which had already been disproven, despite the assist from the US Attorney in dragging up these charges.
But within Kean's snotty, racist, contempt lay the seeds of his defeat. Menendez pointed out what he had done for the state, and then tied Bush around his neck like an anvil. His commercials and the DSCC commercials made one simple argument, voting for Kean is a vote for Bush.
So why would Kean play the race card? Because it would work in the suburban areas. But then, they went a card too far, they went after immigration. Which is a massive mistake. The northern counties near New York are filled with immigrant familes, same around Philly and Atlantic City. When they launched into their illegal alien spiel, it drove groups once receptive to GOP pitches like South Asians and Arabs to the polls. And they were voting Democratic.
But in the end the problem was that Menendez tied Kean to Bush so tightly that a vote against Kean was a vote against the war.
Webb was going to lose this race. It was just that simple. He was underfunded, Allen was seen a presidential contender, and there had been a contentious primary. Things were so bad between Webb and black politicians that one of the leaders in the legislature endorsed Allen.
Then came Mike Stark.
Macaca set the stage. His bullying of a Webb campaign worker on video spread from the blogs to cable news to broadcast news. But Allen still had a lead and much good will.
The Webb campaign wanted no part of Stark, they wanted to fight with clean hands. And if they did, well, Webb would not be senator-elect. Even now, people are saying "oh, he was just showing off"
My simple response to that is shut the fuck up. Jim Webb is a senator because of the question he asked Allen in August. He asked him, on camera, "have you ever used the word nigger?" He said no, and then the election became a debate on Allen's racism. Not for a week, but for the entire cycle. Allen's sick racism shone through because people remembered his open contempt for blacks. He was one of those racists who called people niggers in rooms full of white people.
No MSM reporter was going to ask that, in any form. The right would have exploded. But once that was on the table, the MSM ran to daylight with it. Because there was so much to work with.
Then came his discomfort on finding out about his Jewish heritage. It really freaked out the media. The more you knew about Allen, the weirder he was. Beating his siblings, hanging a noose in his office.
Oh, yeah, then he decided to parse Webb's war novels.
Because it allowed other people to do what Webb wouldn't, discuss his military service, including winning the Navy Cross. Reminding people that Allen was a bully and a coward.
And in the last weekend of the campaign, Allen's goons beat Stark, then had him dragged out in handcuffs. Why? It sucked the air out of the room. As they tossed the former Marine and law student around for asking about Allen's sealed arrest record, they put the coda on Allen as bully for the world to see.
What was especially funny was the "help" the right bloggers gave......Mike. Their video and pictures proved his case. I think Cheetos rots the brain.
Webb won a tight race because the dynamics changed. And they changed because of a video and a question.
posted by Steve @ 1:19:00 AM