Friday :: Jun 6, 2003

Garry South Joins Lieberman's Campaign

by Steve

This is huge.

Garry South, somewhat surprisingly, has signed on with the Joe Lieberman campaign. It on the surface was surprising to me because until recently I had assumed that Lieberman was going to run his campaign on being “Bush-Lite”, the much bandied about phrase that the Dean campaign sometimes likes to think they created. And most activists feel that a Lieberman at the top of the ticket in 2004 is a recipe for the base to stay home. Lieberman had given every impression until recently that he was going to re-run the Holy Joe campaign, basing his effort on the premise that he could fight Bush more effectively than the others on integrity, appeals to faith, and a moderate-to-conservative political philosophy.

Yet Lieberman has spent the better part of the last two weeks going after Bush for the Texas DPS misuse of the Department of Homeland Security, supporting an inquiry looking into the WMD intelligence deception while reaffirming his support for the war, and proposing his own health care initiative, which is focused on finding cures for costly-to-treat cancers and diseases. On top of that, he is taking pains to tell Jewish voters to get over their anxieties about one of their own running for the top spot and what that means for American’s role in securing Middle East peace. His numbers have been falling in Iowa of late, and his fundraising has been lackluster, but it is still relatively early. If the trend holds into the fall, that is a different matter.

He also has decided that the 2000 campaign is a memory, and that there will be no harping about the Florida recount fiasco, stating that he wants to look ahead and build a campaign on the future and the post 9-11 world. He feels that he can restore confidence and hope to the country, while undercutting Bush’s alleged advantages on national security.

By bringing aboard a proven political killer like Garry South, who will certainly go after Bush and Rove, it indicates that Lieberman is prepared to take the gloves off and attack Bush on integrity, in light of his recent line of attack. With Kerry speaking up about the Democrats’ need to support a forceful and effective national security policy, and Graham already going after Bush over 9/11 and his wavering anti-terror efforts, having Garry South put a charge into Lieberman and use his skills to also attack Bush means that there will be at least three candidates with national experience going after Bush on national security and integrity.

But the problems for Lieberman are several, and still remain. Aside from the fact that the base is loathe to consider him a ticket leader at this point, he was against the creation of an independent 9/11 commission, as was John Edwards. He was a whore for the accounting industry in the 1990's. His support for the war would help him in a general election against Bush, but it isn't a good strategy to get the nomination, unless he is gambling that he can overcome the base's hostility to him on this point by using South to savage Bush.

And of course there is the possibility that South will turn his guns on fellow Democrats first to thin out the field, like he did for Gray Davis in 1998 in attacking Al Checchi and Jane Harman. That will not endear him to the base, but it will firm up which candidates will be first tier survivors for the long haul.

In any case, the move is very interesting and I look forward to Lieberman's strategy and line of attack from here on.

Steve :: 9:27 AM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!