“Chris Dodd—your fellow senator from Connecticut, did a commercial for your opponent—all of them campaigned or gave money. Is it going to be awkward for you?” Tim Russert to Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Q: Hi’ya Tony. How you do’n?
TS: Good. How you do’n? Hey, what are you talking like that for? And what’s with the baggy pants? You’re an educated guy. You been to college, someth’n like that. What’s with the gangbanger stuff?
Q: (Clears his throat nervously) Oh, okay. We’re here talking with Tony Soprano about the recently concluded, hotly contested Lieberman-Lamont election in Connecticut. Tony, as you know, Lieberman won that one. And he’ll be returning to the U.S. Senate as an Independent who will be caucusing with the Democrats, so he says. But the campaign has ruptured some old friendships, particularly the long-standing friendship between U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and Lieberman. We thought you might bring a fresh perspective to the subject of friendships in politics.
TS: Yeah sure, I know a lot about friendship and caucusing. Half my life has been spent winning friends – and losing them.
Q: Batta’bing, hey.
TS: Hey – HEY!
Q: Okay…okay…okay…okay. I just slipped into it. Sorry.
TS: Look, I’m trying to juggle some thoughts here, and you come along and bang my balls, with your bat or somethin’. Shaddup!... I was saying … There’s a difference between friendship and business, especially in the political arena. Now, I know about politics. Half my life has been spent caucusing with the boys. Now, there ain’t much difference between the parties and, you know, “the thing.”
Q: Right, the unmentionable “thing” (A disparaging look from Tony). Okay…okay…
TS: As I was saying, before you tore the delicate web of my thoughts with your bat or somethin’… Look, it’s business okay? Dodd and Lieberman are grown-ups. They understand these things. I been do’n a little research. It’s all psychology or somethin’.
Q: Forgive me, Tony, but that’s rich. Are you a Freudian or what?
TS: Now that’s the first intelligent question you asked Mr. fancy baggy pants. Yeah, you can’t be a leader of men without understanding psychology. Psychology is the science of what makes men tick, and Freud didn’t have the last word on the subject. Now shaddup and learn. Lieberman isn’t the first independent minded politician Dodd was friendly with. Before him, there was Weicker, the capo di capo of the state Republican Party. Close friendship, right? They were dancing together, right? Weicker, Dodd, Ted Kennedy of Massachussetts – a regular ménage a trois. Then along comes Lieberman, and he bumps Weicker off. Does Dodd despair, does he gnash his teeth? No. He waits. Weicker drifts off, and Dodd commences a “friendship” with Lieberman. And that lasts until Lamont comes along – backed by, guess who? (Lieberman’s old nemesis, Weicker) – and dispatches Lieberman in a primary. Now, at this point, Lieberman is supposed to ride off into the sunset and, good Democrat soldier that he is, leave the field to Lamont. But he doesn’t. This happens in our business all the time. So, the whole thing falls apart; people are shouting and shootn’ at each other. And, when all the smoke clears, there’s Lieberman, stand’n tall. You gotta admire his gumption, his – what do the Jews call it? – chutzpa. And there’s Dodd, scratch’n his head and ask’n himself – What I’m gonna do?
Q: Jeeze, Tony – that’s not bad analysis.
TS: That’s why you’re talk’n t’me, right? So, if your question is “Will the friendship between Dodd and Lieberman survive the strain put upon it by Dodd’s betrayal of the friendship,” the answer is: Sure. Political attachments aren’t friendships; they’re business relationships. Sometimes the relationship is awkward, but business relationships survive between people who do business together. Still, it’s always a good idea to bear good advice in mind: “One should not give rise to those causes which are destructive of friendship; and when they arise, one should get rid of them by adopting such friendly attitude as can remove those causes.”
Q: Did you learn that from Freud, Tony?
TS: No, from the Arthashastra.
Q: The what?
TS: So, you don’t know that one, Mr. fancy baggy pants? It’s a 4th century BC treatise on the obligations of rulers. And you call yourself a political commentator! What’s journalism coming to?