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At The Sign Of The Braying Ass

There’s been a little tug of war going on in blogdom – and in other places – between Lanny Davis, author of “Scandal: How 'Gotcha' Politics Is Destroying America,” and Gotcha monger Colin McEnroe, the host of an eponymous radio program and the author of “Lanny Davis Is (Still) An Emu."

The two are bickering over the question, "Is Sen. Joe Lieberman a Democrat?" (Short answer, yes and no) and a related question, "Is Lieberman a tolerable human being?" Lanny says yes; McEnroe, occasionally given to wondering why Lieberman has not appeared on his radio talk show lately, says no.

In a short column printed in the Hartford Courant, McEnroe’s stomping grounds, Davis asserts that Lieberman – with the exception of his support of the war on jihadism – has been a good liberal Democrat, and he adduces the senator’s votes as proof. Lieberman has voted with Democrats 90% of the time, and he still caucuses even with Democrats whooping it up in the anti-war camp. "According to a recently published study by a San Diego professor who evaluated the voting records of all 100 senators on a liberal-conservative scale," Davis wrote, "Joe Lieberman was among the 12 most liberal senators in the 110th Congress."

McEnroe reluctantly agrees but points out that the war just now is the defining issue in the Democrat camp. The barricades were thrown up in Connecticut when an obscure Greenwich millionaire, Ned Lamont, challenged Lieberman in a Democrat primary -- and won. At this point, Lieberman was expected to withdraw, concede that the anti-war crowd was all along right about the bumptious George Bush, and ride off into the sunset. But Lieberman challenged Lamont in the general election as an Independent Democrat – and won.

Besides all this, McEnroe has said numerous times that Lieberman is a nasty man – “a crusader against violent videogames and filth on television,” a guest on intolerable talk show programs hosted by the “scabrous Bob Grant and even Pat Roberston.” And, by the way, Lieberman's defender, Davis, is an Emu. In some quarters, this is considered a very funny thing. McEnroe has put up on his site a snarling Emu, which looks amazingly like President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in full fury, denouncing scabrous Jews and threatening to incinerate Israel.

Warming their icy hands over the little flame of their private hatreds, the run of the mill progressive blogger asks, “How do I detest thee, let me count the ways?”

McEnroe ticks them off.

Blot 1: All along, rabid warmongers have insisted that when Iraqis pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein following the entrée of American soldiers into Iraq, they were celebrating the downfall of a tyrant. McEnroe’s own heart sang as he watched the event on television. But the toppling was not what it first appeared to be: “A newly declassified Army study of the Iraq invasion confirms that the U.S. military stage-managed the fall of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad. According to the Army's own report, a Marine colonel decided to topple the statue and an Army psyops worked to make the toppling of the statue appear to be a spontaneous undertaking by Iraqi civilians. This according to the Los Angeles Times. The psyops team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqis to gather in Firdos Square and a Marine recovery vehicle was used to topple the statue with a chain.”

McEnroe does not assert that Saddam was not reviled in some quarters of Iraq – particularly by the relatives of the Kurds he gassed and murdered; he is simply making the point here that the toppling of the statue was staged managed by the U.S. military. Psyops is expected to do this sort of thing. But there is no question the Americans have been out finessed by the fierce jihadists who later on sawed off Daniel Pearl’s head and passed around the video celebrating the execution via the internet.

Blot 2: Davis in his Courant piece argues that “if you take Iraq out of the equation Joe Lieberman is a liberal and that Lieberman's most ardent critics would be mollified if they believed that.”

McEnroe casts doubt on this assertion. But, once again, he carefully does not deny that Lieberman voted with the liberals most of the time, which would make him a liberal most of the time.

McEnroe points out that there were early and disturbing signs that Lieberman was drifting into the enemy’s camp. The detestable talk show hosts he names – Sean Hannity and Glen Beck, among others, right-wingers all – received Lieberman in good humor. But the mere association with such folk has tainted Lieberman: “Why do they like him? Iraq? Maybe. But they also like his taste for keeping Terry Schiavo alive and his apology for torture. They like the way he voted against a filibuster in the Alito nomination (even if he cast a meaningless vote against Alito at the end.) They like all the Bill Bennett stuff on values and virtue. They like his speech about Condi Rice having the hearts of all Americans.”

And, oh yes, Lieberman's 90% liberal voting record is misleading, Machiavellian political psyops: “Lieberman is the master of voting Democrat at the last minute. After a crucial amendment or a cloture vote, he'll veer off sharply and vote with his party. He'll dance with the Bush administration on Social Security until his own party leaders are pulling out their hair and then run back to the fold so Davis can spin him as a Democrat.

“The complicated dance Lieberman has done to remain both a lapdog of the Bush administration, the Charo of right wing propaganda shows and yet, on paper, a plausible Democrat is covered by me in this Salon piece and, in greater depth, by this DailyKos post.”

Helpfully, McEnroe provides a link to the DailyKos post as well as his own Lieberman skewering piece in Salon, an on-line magazine.

Blot 3: And, in any case, whether these points are open to dispute simply does not matter, because Davis has not managed to grasp the nub of the discontent with Connecticut's too independent senator among Lieberman haters, which is: “So Lanny, here is something you failed to grasp: You can bring out all the liberal ratings numbers you want. Some of us just don't like Joe Lieberman as a person. He's vain, ambitious, preening, hypocritical, vindictive. He gives us the creeps. OK.”

In the face of such hot-headed vindictiveness, what is the author of “Scandal: How 'Gotcha' Politics Is Destroying America” to answer, if not: “Okay, McEnroe, you win? Why don’t you and your crowd assemble a paper maché statue of Lieberman outside your talk show site, throw a chain over it and pull it to the ground?”

Good psyops there.

The very first comment on McEnroe's "Lenny Is Still An Emu" posting, written by the scabrous CtKeith, gently chides Davis: "Lanny Davis and Monica Lewinsky are both famous because of Clintons (sic) Penis. Monica will be remembered as the more honorable one of the two."

One wonders what McEnroe's fellow columnist at the Courant, Rick Green, thinks of it all. He cannot be happy.

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