LIEBERMAN'S ANONYMOUS DEFENDER REVEALED
Last week after the HUFFINGTON POST picked up a story I had written about why I thought Joe Lieberman is bad for Democrats, bad for Connecticut and bad for our country, they got a letter of complaint from a close Lieberman associate and they asked me to respond to his charges that my accusations were false. I was grateful for the opportunity, and after I had written the piece, Arriana returned from a trip and immediately made sure I got the actual letter. I wasn't surprised to see who it was from: Dan Gerstein, who I remembered as the guy who collaborated with Lieberman on the infamous stab in the back he administered to Clinton at a time when only partisan Republicans were calling for Clinton's impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky brouhaha. (From Lieberman, now Bush's biggest Senate enabler-- at a time when only a third of the country thinks he's doing an acceptable job as president-- we got: "the President apparently had extramarital relations with an employee half his age, and did so in the workplace, in vicinity of the Oval Office. Such behavior is not just inappropriate. It is immoral. And it is harmful, for it sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family, particularly to our children, which is as influential as the negative messages communicated by the entertainment culture." I wonder if he and Dan have ever thought about writing a speech pointing out how inappropriate, harmful and immoral his hero George Bush has been to the larger American family since stealing the 2000 election.)
The letter, said Gerstein, was a way of getting in touch
"about Howie Klein's vicious rant against my old boss, Joe Lieberman, that's up on your site now. I am less concerned with Klein's absurb mischaracterizations of Lieberman's position on free speech issues — which I would be happy to debate him on -- than with his slanderous statements about Lieberman being a racist and a
homophobe. Those accusations are not open to debate — they are demonstrably untrue. Lieberman
went to Mississippi to register voters in 1963 and then marched with MLK, hardly the work of a racist. In addition, he has long been a leading cosponsor of ENDA, and he introduced a
domestic partnership benefits bill for federal employees — hardly the work of a homophobe. (If necessary I can send you a much longer exposition on Lieberman's record on civil rights.) As such, I would ask you to remove those references from Klein's post or take it down. These kind of wild, unsubstantiated, sleazy attacks have no place on a blog that is trying to promote a serious,
substantive political debate. Indeed, I have great respect for your site precisely because unlike much of the liberal blogosphere, your commentators have refrained from this kind of ugly vituperation and
written on a far higher plane. Please don't let people like Howie Klein drag you down into that gutter.
I would be happy to discuss any of this in more detail if that would be helpful. Otherwise, thanks in advance for your attention to this matter."
Before I get into the specifics of Dan's charges and characterizations, I want to point out that we're not talking about someone who volunteered to hand out flyers at a Lieberman rally in Stamford once. On his own website Dan describes himself as having "served on the senior strategy team for Lieberman’s 2004 presidential campaign"... and "as deputy communications director, where he coordinated the strategic planning process, directed the policy and speechwriting operations and led daily briefings of the candidate." In 2000 he had been Lieberman's "chief national spokesman," where he "managed relations with national and local reporters, assisted in development of communications strategy and rapid response efforts, and wrote statements and select speeches. One of the speeches Gerstein worked with Lieberman on was a widely-praised address on role of religion in public life at the University of Notre Dame." He was also "communications director in Lieberman’s Senate office, where he served as chief message strategist, spokesman and speechwriter, and counseled the Senator on domestic policy matters." His own website goes on to proclaim that "He collaborated with Lieberman on his renowned floor statement chastising President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky matter. He was the chief architect of Lieberman’s high-profile values agenda, helping to craft the Vchip law and initiating an FTC investigation into the marketing of adult-rated entertainment products to children. He was a leading strategist behind the passage of the groundbreaking No Child Left Behind education reform bill."
The one other bit of context, also in Dan's own words, that I'd like to ask you to consider is the recent editorial attack he made in the WALL STREET JOURNAL against Democratic netroots activists claiming that listening to the reviews of the Democrats' performance in the Alito hearings make it easy to come away thinking much of our party "is living in a parallel universe."
One thing I always noticed about people who are naturally predisposed towards the political Right is that they inevitably seem to think that when they are called on their shit they can declare, as if by fiat, that reality is something more malleable than it is. In his letter, Dan attributes "slanderous statements [to me] about Lieberman being a racist and a homophobe. Those accusations are not open to debate." Is that so? Scratch the surface of a right-wing Democrat and you find...
Let's debate them anyway. Now I'm not African-American, so I based my statement-- which NEVER called Dan's old boss a racist, of course (Dan, who prides himself at being a communications expert, made that up to make a point)-- but only pointed out what I have been told by African-American friends, namely that Lieberman "made racism quasi-acceptable by framing it as being against unfair affirmative action." Dan points out that in 1963 Lieberman "marched with Martin Luther King, hardly the work of a racist" (Dan's strawman again). Well today Joe Lieberman marches with George W. Bush. And between his heady student days in the 60's and his taking up residence deep in Bush's anus, he had been marching with William F. Buckley, Rick Santorum, Lynn Cheney and Bill Bennett.
In the article I referred to last week by Dr. Manning Marable there was a paragraph I didn't cite, one that describes "a staged NEW YORK TIMES
photograph of Senator Lieberman standing before the meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus at the recent Democratic National Convention. Standing on either side of Lieberman are Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Only hours before, Herman and Waters had engaged in a spirited public disagreement over the selection of Lieberman. In the photo, Herman looks relieved, and Waters appears sad. Perhaps Maxine reflects the grim realization of other black Democrats, who are now forced to campaign for candidates and a party platform they privately oppose. All they are left with is to frighten black voters to the polls with the spectre of a Republican victory. They don’t realize the obvious: the Republicans have already won. By accepting Lieberman onto the ticket, as NATION writer David Corn states, Gore 'has accepted—or surrendered to—the Bush terms of battle.' Bush, Cheney, Gore and Lieberman, in the end, only reflect variations of the same bankrupt political philosophy." I'm sure Dr. Marable would be consigned to Dan's parallel universe as well.
Now, I am more qualified to speak about Lieberman as a homophobe because, although I'm not an African-American, I am a gay American. And although Lieberman's condescending statement to the NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE that "some of my best friends are gays and lesbians," just goes to show how out-of-touch and patently dishonest he is, in my case it is completely true (although some of my best friends are straight too). Me and my gay friends remember-- viscerally remember-- the emotions that Lieberman stirred up by labeling us as some kind of a dysfunction that society had to be protected from. If not for George H.W. Bush's veto, Lieberman's viciously homophobic (and youthophobic and free-speech-o-phobic Media Marketing Accountability Act, which I'm gathering from his website might actually have been Dan's idea, would be another law singling out gay people for special treatment-- i.e., that they can't be mentioned in songs, at least not in songs that songwriters want sold in the vast majority of retail accounts. And special treatment is something Lieberman feels is needed for gay Americans, something I could understand-- though still abhor-- from a senator from Utah or Alabama, but not from an enlightened, progressive state like Connecticut. In 1996 Joe "Some of My Best Friends Are" Lieberman voted for the putrid Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). We know Lieberman is not a real friend of gay men and women. When a guy like Paul Hackett-- in a DEEP RED Ohio backwater says "Gay marriage -- who the hell cares? If you're gay you're gay -- more power to you. What you want is to be treated fairly by the law and any American who doesn't think that should be the case is, frankly, un-American," we know we have a real friend we can trust. Lieberman is, at best, equivocal.
New York's GAY CITY NEWS pointed out how even Cheney sounded like a stauncher defender of gay as he stood next to Lieberman in their Vice-Presidential debate: "...when questioned about government sanction of same-sex couples in the 2000 Vice Presidential debate, [Lieberman] gave a weaker answer than Dick Cheney, father of out lesbian Mary Cheney. The Republican said, 'I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into,' incurring the wrath of the religious right. (His administration, of course, has done nothing to advance same-sex partner rights.) Lieberman in that same debate said his mind 'is open to taking some action that will address these elements of unfairness while respecting the traditional religious and civil institution of marriage.' In a BOSTON GLOBE survey last week, Lieberman stopped short of endorsing even civil unions."
He still opposes the right of gay men and women to marry. God only knows what all his best friends think!
This morning I woke up and put on CNN and one of their feeble-minded, empty talking heads was on a viciously homophobic rant-- homophobic to the ear of a gay person, but perhaps not to a non-gay person. He was talking about the Oscars. Without ever saying he hated or feared or disliked gay people, he made it crystal clear that he did by the utter contempt and sneering disdain which he used in talking about-- and refusing to discuss-- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and TRANSAMERICA. Lieberman is skilled at sending messages; he's an expert at talking out of the both sides of his mouth-- communicating different messages to different audiences, pandering here, attacking there, but always creating an image for himself as part of some kind of god-squad empowered by their election to set the morals and values for the country. Phooey! Joe Lieberman may have been cool when he was 20 marching in Mississippi. He has amassed quite a record since then, a record that will help catapult Ned Lamont into the U.S. Senate and give Lieberman an opportunity to clean-up on the rubber chicken circuit with like-minded, atavistic and delusional reactionaries like Zell Miller and Bill Bennett.
And since Dan Gerstein has been wholly unsuccessful in his attempts to get me silenced and censored, I will still be quite happy to debate him. May I suggest that we ask for the opening act slot at the Ministry concert in D.C.? And if you, like me, no longer want to see Dan's old boss on the morning talk shows piously intoning Republican claptrap to demonize his Democratic colleagues and their positions, please consider visiting the DWT ACT BLUE Page for Ned Lamont, who will face off against Lieberman in the August 8th Democratic primary in Connecticut and can use all the $10 and $20 contributions he can muster against the donations of the big money interests whose favorite senator is being challenged.