>> Tuesday, December 15, 2009
With respect to the question of whether Joe Lieberman is stupid or mendacious, the answer is, of course, both. Certainly, the fact that he's not very bright can be seen in the fact that none of the explanations he offers for whatever idiotic position he's now taking are even remotely coherent. Having said that, I also have to agree with Brad that no matter how little respect you have for Lieberman's intelligence or command of policy details -- and, like Chait, I certainly have none -- I don't believe he's so stupid as to have not noticed that his new ad hoc objection to provisions excessively favored by liberals completely contradicts the ad hoc objections he came up with three months ago. In this case, his embarrassing hackishness has to be seen as trumping his intellectual limitations, although both are very much present.
Of course, as Bowers points out, he's not alone among the "centrists" in the world's worst deliberative body. So why does he attract the by far the most vituperation? First, while senators from Nebraska and Louisiana are going to be an obstacle to decent progressive legislation as long as the stupid supermajority rules remain in place, a senator from Connecticut shouldn't be. (Unlike Lieberman, Ben Nelson has never made any pretense of being a liberal on domestic policy in order to get elected.) Secondly, Lieberman's fairly ordinary venality is made much worse by the fact that he's such a sanctimonious prick.
And despite this gap between his immense self-regard and non-existent integrity, he has a massive cheering section among journalists. As Somerby has pointed out more than once, Gore's selection of Lieberman was basically the only time he got positive media coverage in the 2000 campaign. And, surely, Charles Lane wouldn't have been compelled to engage in disgusting, substance-free smears of Ezra Klein in order to defend Mary Landrieu's honor from analysts too ""youthful" to know that we have to pretend that Joe Lieberman is a great statesman and man of principle no matter how overwhelming the contradictory evidence.