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Friday, Jul 21, 2006, 8:13 am

A Lieberman Anecdote

By Brian Zick

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Josh Marshall has been focused the last couple days on the Lieberman/Lamont primary campaign. And - Josh being Josh - he has endeavored to present a variety of perspectives, including several posts with emails from his readers. And despite bending over backward to accommodate any rational explanation for Lieberman's behavior, Josh has been obliged to conclude - albeit putting it mildly - that the Senator is seriously "out of touch" with his Connecticut constituents.

Reading all the voices, in the establishment press as well as Blogsylvania, about Lieberman standing steadfast in favor of the Iraq war (among other points of contention) has been a bit of an exercise in déjà vu for me.

During the buildup to the Iraq war, like so many folks, I tried to reason with some influential politicians. I made a phone call to Joe Lieberman's office, and was routed to one of his staffers who was working the issue. Alas, I neglected to make note of the gentleman's name. For not only was he exceedingly gracious, but he allowed our discussion to go on for a considerable amount of time - it was at least 20 minutes, maybe more. Over the decades I have called many a congressional office cold and totally out of the blue; the time I was given on that call was unprecedented in my experience.

I had a genuine debate with the man over the merits - and demerits - of entering into the conflict. We actually argued. Very politely, but it was an argument. And in all my years of phoning the Capitol, I couldn't recall a congressional staffer ever saying much of anything beyond "Thank you for expressing your view, I will pass it along to the Senator/Congressman." I felt the man was according me enormous respect, and I was very grateful for his willingness to engage in a serious give and take.

I was afforded the opportunity to raise every argument on the lengthy list of reasons not to get involved, in the horrible and foreseeable disaster, and to discuss each reason in some detail. Yet at every turn, the point was made with crystal clarity that the Senator's position was cast in stone. Finally, in exasperation, I asked "Is there simply no price too high that the Senator would be willing to pay?"

And with great courtesy but firm conviction, the staffer said "No!."

It would appear, however, that a price too high has finally been discovered.
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