The 40-Year Plan:
'cause it ain't gonna happen overnight...
by Ken Krayeske
Monday morning quarterbacking is the sport of losers. So, in the spirit of second-guessing, here’s some thoughts as to why Ned Lamont lost.
1. Ned was uncomfortable talking about money. Ned failed to (or couldn’t) fight back when Lieberman ran the commercial about Lamont Digital cutting jobs while Ned made a pretty penny. My father, who never usually shares with me how he votes, revealed why he cast his ballot for Holy Joe: the aforementioned Lamont layoff ad.
Whether it was true or a distortion, it worked. Ned never attacked back, and didn’t take to the air discussing Lieberman’s funding sources. Ned could’ve run an ad listing all the corporate donors that Lieberman’s $15 million came from and said, hey, do you trust me who has all his own money, or someone indentured to fat-cat loot?
Ned listed his income as between $90 and $300 million. A little more honesty there would have helped. There is absolutely no way that when Ned Lamont files his 1040 with the IRS, he doesn’t have a ballpark figure in his mind, within, say, $5 million, of what he is worth. To share anything less with the voters was disrespectful.
He knew his personal worth, otherwise he wouldn’t have known how much he could afford to shovel into the race safely, and still maintain his standard of living.
2. Ned was pro-Israel. Joe was pro-Israel. What’s the difference. One of the first things campaign manager Tom Swan asked me to do in April when they hired me was to remove the “Free Palestine” bumper stickler from my car. Ouch.
Whether the language indicts Israel or allows an opponent to paint Lamont as an anti-Semite because of his campaign staff, I didn’t check my rights to free speech at the door.
One of my professors at law school countered with the “Go Clean for Gene” theory – where hippies shaved their hair to help get Eugene McCarthy elected. It didn’t work then, and clearly didn’t work this time. You can’t pander to prejudice to get elected. Yet I loathe Lieberman, so I covered the bumper sticker up. Ouch.
When I saw Ned at the NAACP candidate forum Saturday, Oct. 28, I told him Ralph Nader was coming to town to criticize Lieberman. Ned asked if Ralph would endorse him. No, I responded, you supported the bombing of Lebanon, which happens to be Nader’s ancestral homeland.
Plus, how can you be against one war of aggression and in favor of another? Many people on Lamont's campaign staff told me, don’t worry, Ned will be hard on Israel once he’s elected. If he says it up front, they cautioned me, he won’t win. But if he doesn’t speak truth from the start, how do I know he will say it later?
People also argued that you can’t run against AIPAC – the American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee – and emerge victorious. Once again, I disagree. We need to discuss Israeli influence in American politics. Israel receives practically the budget of the state of Connecticut annually in military aid. And Israel has universal health care for its people.
That should’ve been a campaign issue, but Lamont walked lockstep with Lieberman on this. So why should voters have switched flavors?
3. Ned hired limousines to shuttle UConn and Eastern Connecticut State University students to the polls. Poll-standing in the rain in front of Windham Middle School on Election Day, I saw one of these limos, and I couldn’t fathom it.
While this may have won the election for Joe Courntey, Ned missed the boat on the youth vote. Rather than argue that universities should have their own polling places, Ned tried to use the illusion of wealth to lure students to vote. Wrong.
Ned and Joe spent about $30 per vote between them. Why not just dole the money out individually? It would’ve worked better for student votes than hiring limos.
On the UConn campus, two full-time staff people for the Connecticut Citizen Action Group are organizing students around free college tuition. UConn was a very low-cost institution up until the early 1970s, and it should be that way again.
I helped Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton run on this issue. While we didn’t win, we got press on it. It is more readily achieved on the federal level, where the Higher Education Act of 1997 (renewed in 2006) is almost the exact opposite of the GI Bill.
Suppose Ned spent $2 million in commercials on this issue? When I think that Tom Swan took a leave of absence from running CCAG - which Nader helped start - to manage Lamont’s campaign, I am nothing short of befuddled.
If Ned got 5,000 college and high school students and their parents (15,000 total) to vote for him on this issue alone, he wins.
On the bright side, Ned forged a path that helped the Democrats take Congress. Not to be a pessimist, give them four to eight years and they’ll mess it up, too.
Are you ready for six more years of Sen. Lieberman? Ugggh.