Friday, June 16, 2006

The Bear Is Back

Apparently Lieberman's just partying like it's 1988:

The commercial evokes one that helped Lieberman first win his seat in 1988. That 1988 ad depicted the then-incumbent, Lowell Weicker, as a fat lazy bear who never showed up for votes in his third term in office. The ad was significant for two reasons: It inaugurated a new era in Connecticut of low-grade personal TV attack ads that belittle opponents, make fun of their appearance or magnify minor or out-of-context portions of their record. And, once he too was firmly ensconced in his third term in the Senate, Lieberman himself repeated Weicker's absentee record. Lieberman spent much of 2003 running for president--and away from his job as senator. He skipped 54 percent of all Senate votes that year. He was absent for every vote on 63 of the 115 days in which the Senate cast votes. According to one estimate, that meant the taxpayers overpaid Lieberman $38,828.79 in salary that year.

The new cartoon ad reprises the figure of the Weicker cartoon bear. And it adds a new one: a little "bear cub," aka Ned Lamont.

The same DC consultant hit man, Carter Askew, designed both ads. The new one shows Weicker coming out of his cave, still angry 18 years later that Joe Lieberman beat him. But he's too lazy to run again. "Instead of coming out of hibernation," the narrator informs us, "he sent his bear cub instead." (In fact, Weicker had nothing to do with Lamont choosing to run for Senate.) It portrays Lamont as a whining, hop-about baby who doesn't want to run against Lieberman because he previously gave Lieberman a campaign contribution. "But I agree with the Republicans 80 percent of the time!" cartoon Lamont protests in a shrill toddler's voice. But as a "cub" he has to listen to the big bear.

The new ad brings another modern Beltway campaign attack mode to Connecticut: Bush adviser Karl Rove's strategy of taking your own weakness and turning it into your opponent's weakness instead, through relentless misrepresentation of facts.