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The Fat Lady's Song

The Lieberman-Lamont race for status and prestige in Washington D.C. will be over by the time this is posted, and I have no way of knowing, from this remove, who will have won the race. But it’s been lots of fun, in an agonizing, sliver-in-the-foot sort of way. Whether the race between Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman and Democrat senatorial nominee Ned Lamont has been a tragedy or farce is a matter for tragedians or comedians to decide. Towards the end, the whole wild roller-coaster took wing and headed off into LaLaLand.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who earlier campaigned for Lamont in Connecticut , said during a campaign rally for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq ."

This is what Kerry spokeswoman Amy Brundage said that Kerry’s text had called for him to say, according to an Associated Press report: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq . Just ask President Bush."

This is what President George Bush, campaigning in Georgia for former Republican congressman Mac Collins, said concerning the statement made by Kerry: Calling the Kerry statement “shameful” and “insulting,” Bush said, “The members of the United States military are plenty smart and they are plenty brave and the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.”

This is what Kerry said about what Bush said about what Kerry said: "I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did."

What we have here, on the face of it, is a failure to communicate, leading to a tiff that points backward to Kerry’s unfortunate habit of hyperbolizing and then braving his way out of a rhetorical hole by a) accusing those wagging fingers at him of outrageous personal attacks, and b) brazenly asserting that no one who has not participated in a war is fit to comment on any matter relating to the military. Soldiers who have seen active service, like Kerry, may join in the discussion and say things that are wounding and wrong; others, including the wounded and the wronged, must bite their tongues.

That view of things is tragically wrong because soldiering does not confer infallibility on the soldierly speaker. However honorable Kerry’s service to his country as a soldier in the Vietnam War, there is no necessary connection between his service and any political statement he may make such that his service will confer on his statement a certitude that belongs properly to a correspondence between unchanging facts and statements made about such facts.

Kerry was followed on the political stage by the Lyndon LaRouche cult. LaRouche storm troopers, a few days before Election Day, showed up at Mayor Mike’s restaurant in downtown Hartford to heckle Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman and William F. Buckley Jr., who was not present at the festivities.

According to one report , a young LaRoucheite “disguised in a wig and make-up as conservative columnist William F. Buckley, began yelling and throwing green ‘Buckley Bucks,’” while a chorus sang a little ditty: “If you want a third world war, vote for Joe, Bill Buckley's whore."

One of the storm troopers helpfully explained to a reporter that they had “come to Connecticut from around the country specifically to heckle Lieberman because, they said, Buckley supported Lieberman when he unseated Republican U.S. Sen. Lowell Weicker in 1988.”

America! What a country, eh? Some people who in the past have been successfully impaled by Buckley’s National Review magazine write letters to the editor; other vintage wing nuts engage in Abbie Hoffman-like rhetorical pogroms in Hartford bars.

Anyway, the fat lady has sung, and it’s over, for which we may thank God -- and ex-governor and senator Lowell Weicker, the political genius suffering from a Napoleon in exile complex who persuaded Lamont to spend a small fortune to oust his former nemesis. A comedian might view the whole race between Lieberman and Lamont as the bi-product of a nightmare brought on by dyspepsia while Lowell was trying to write an afterward to his unread biography.


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