One of my guilty pleasures living in Washington, DC, is a weekly subscription to my hometown Connecticut paper, The Newtown Bee. Of its many charming aspects, one is that it's still printed on newsprint the size of a small bedsheet. The bulk of this weekly paper is inevitably devoted to police reports (lots of car crashes and the few fires tended to by the local volunteer firemen), letters to the editor (copious complaining over the numerous votes needed to pass the town budget and thanking people for helping with this or that charity event), and myriad pictures of town residents being honored, making donations, or participating in sporting events.
But now Newtown has its own "Lieberman controversy."
According to an article in the most recent Bee, the Connecticut Senator was inadvertently invited by the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) to march in the town's Labor Day Parade with local Democrats. While one member of the Committee invited him as a "sitting Democratic Senator," others--apparently comprised of everyone else on the Committee--now view him as an Independent unworthy of inclusion.
Newtown's Democratic First Selectman Herb Rosenthal made this blunt observation about Lieberman as reported in the Bee, "I told him through his office, that as a duly elected Democratic official, he's putting me in an uncomfortable, almost embarrassing position. We have a duly elected candidate, who was endorsed by a historic turnout of state Democrats in the recent primary. I don't have to march with [Senator Lieberman], the DTC doesn't have to march with him, so why would he want to make it look like he's in good graces with the Democratic Party...? He is not in good graces with state Democrats."
And some more Rosenthal: "He was privately and publicly asked not to run by many state Democrats, and decided to run anyway even after he lost the primary. Philosophically, I have a problem with that....And I'm not going to reward that behavior by marching beside him on Labor Day."
In response, the Lieberman camp dispatched ubiquitously snarly spokesman Dan Gerstein. At this point, I must admit I take great pleasure in the image of the Senate campaign spokesperson forced to address the "controversy" with a small-town journalist sitting at his desk in the red (last time I saw) clapboard offices of the Bee, with its golden bee weather vane on the roof (which was once stolen by high-school kids, left, its wings bent, in the woods, but later recovered and returned to its rooftop perch). Gerstein told the Bee, "The Senator believes this [situation] is quite unfortunate." He then defaulted to what appears to have become the Lieberman campaign's all-purpose sound bite--regardless of the fact that it's more suited for New York or Washington than a town whose major claim to fame is an unprotected deadly steel flagpole in the middle of a four-way intersection in the center of town--"This is the kind of partisan game playing that has left Connecticut voters fed up with Washington." Take that Herb.
Added the grammatically challenged Gerstein, "This infers that Senator Lieberman is not welcome at the parade. But the Senator believes there is too much at stake to walk away [following the primary], and he wants to give all Connecticut voters a real choice in November."
Infers, implies, whatever. Unlike Lieberman, Newtown's Democrats actually play by the rules. And his apparent efforts to try and force himself into the parade, against the wishes of Newtown's Democratic Town Committee, make all too clear where his own priorities lie. All I know is that the parade kerfuffle is likely to sap some of Leiberman's Joementum in Newtown.