- Lieberman is calling for Rumsfeld's resignation
- Lamont runs mediocre campaign, narrowly loses the fall election to Holy Joe.
- The senate is 49 Dem, 49 Repub, 2 Ind. Jeffords caucuses w/Dems for 50.
- Bush taps Holy Joe to replace Rummy as SecDef, and Jodi Rell appoints a Republican for CT senator. 50/50 and Cheney provides the final vote.
- Rummy stays, Holy Joe gets pissed off at lack of support from Dems, caucuses w/Repubs, same outcome as above.
- Holy Joe bargains, keeps his seniority, caucuses with Dems, 51/49, but is always thumbing his nose at the party.
Which brings up the question of strategy. Was this the right electoral round for trying to be rid of Lieberman? Reed Hunt's recent series of posts on TPM Cafe can be read as asking that question by making clear the cost of a Lamont loss in the general election. If Lieberman can be defeated in the general - a much harder proposition than a primary defeat because of having to overcome the Republican & Independent majorities for him - then it was because it will have succeeded. If Lamont loses, then it is worse (not arguably, demonstrably) to have done so because of the disruptive force an unaligned (and unhinged) Lieberman will bring to the Senate. It will be a suppurating wound of a PR disaster for the next seven years as the MSM focuses on "maverick" Lieberman and his battles with Democrats.
In a race where the Repubs are in serious danger of losing their congressional majority, they are going to pull out all the stops to claim that seat by proxy, and they will do thir best to alienate Lieberman without actually bringing him into the party. Their arguments are as full of shit as ever, of course, and my contempt for Lieberman grows by the day as he wallows in it. A Lieberman Independent win is a severe blow to all Democrats, particularly progressive ones, as he cannot be shut down.
Ned Lamont's campaign was a strategic mistake and may become a strategic defeat. He has no compelling message to offer except "I'm not Lieberman". In an electoral cycle when Dems could have cleanly won congressional control (and have been positioned for long-term house cleaning), he has inadvertantly given Rove a brilliant way to fuck over the Senate and keep other Democratic candidates out of the news. The desire of the Jacobin wing of the Democratic party to punish "DLC" incumbents before the power base had been sufficiently secured has propelled an unprepared and uninspiring candidate into an unnecessary contest.
So, Dem leadership is squarely facing the lady or tiger moment, and they have run out of options. They have to choose based on what they can hope for in the 2008 electoral cycle. They need to strongly support Lamont and emphasize party unity at every turn. They had also better hope they can pull out a win in every Democratic Senatorial race they are in. It looks like VA may finally be in play. Unless the Dems can get at least 50, then they are well and truly screwed when Joe comes riding in to town, owing them nothing and out for revenge.
Wrong candidate. Wrong state. Wrong election cycle.