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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Limits of GOP Joemania

You’d think from what we’re hearing this week from Republicans all over the country that Joseph Lieberman is indeed the Bush Lite politician that his Democratic detractors insist he is. Virtually every major national Republican pol has weighed in with crocodile tears for Lieberman’s narrow primary loss. And in a really odd development, Senate Republican candidates have begun endorsing Lieberman’s indie run in Connecticut. I can’t imagine that these hugs and kisses are any more welcome in Liebermanland than was Bush’s famous “kiss” at State of the Union Address. It’s not like Joe needs Republican help in Connecticut; in the absence of a viable GOP candidate in the race, there’s not a whole lot of doubt that Nutmeg State Republicans would overwhelmingly prefer Lieberman over Lamont in November without any encouragement from on high. And all the love directed at the incumbent from national Republicans could seriously erode his support among Democrats and independents. But here’s what I really want to know: are all these national Republicans embracing Joe Lieberman willing to support anything he stands for other than his position on Iraq, which they claim crazy lefties have illegitimately targeted him for? Will they suddenly develop an interest in dealing with global climate change? Will they agree that labor laws need to be revised to make it easier for workers to organize unions? Are they on board with Lieberman’s ambitious proposal for a federally funded National Center for Cures to speed new medical treatments? Will they take a serious look at Joe’s 2004 tax proposal, that would have made income tax rates actually more progressive than they were before the Bush tax cuts? Will they push for a systematic attack on corporate subsidies in the federal budget and tax code? Not hardly. But don’t expect any honest disclosures that their professed Joemania is about as genuine as Meat Loaf’s vow of eternal love in the classic rock song Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. The GOP’s love for Lieberman is just for one night. And he should inform them to go home and grow up.

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