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'Dump Joe,' Cry Liberal Bloggers
Published on Monday, May 8, 2006 by the Hartford Courant
'Dump Joe,' Cry Liberal Bloggers
Lieberman Foes Connect On Net
by Adrian Brune
 

As with prophets and leaders before him, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's fall from grace, in the eyes of state Democratic Party activist Keith Crane, began with a kiss.

Crane had stood by the senator, if only grudgingly, through his vice-presidential and presidential campaigns, his speeches supporting the Iraq War and even his appearances on Fox News Channel. But the peck on Lieberman's cheek from President George W. Bush after the 2005 State of the Union Address left him feeling betrayed.

With the help of his brother, Crane (also known online as ctkeith) launched www.dumpjoe.com, putting the image of "The Kiss" on Page 1 of the website he hopes will help bring about Lieberman's political demise. With it, the Branford resident, who proudly wears a button bearing the photograph and passes out buttons everywhere he goes, joined what might have been a passing storm but has become a political Nor'easter threatening to tear down the house of Joe.

"The feeling was out there," Crane said during a recent chapter meeting of Drinking Liberally, a pro-Democrat meeting group in New Haven. "I started the website and started going to Democratic events to put the notion in everyone's ear that it was OK to say what you mean about Joe, that it's OK to say, `Joe's not acting like a good Democrat.'"

Since www.dumpjoe.com made its debut last year, several other blogs and websites (timetogojoe.com and myleftnutmeg.com, to name two) have been launched, a "Dump Joe" video project is being planned and a tide of anti-Lieberman activity has been spreading on the Internet. With enthusiasm reminiscent of the Howard Dean presidential campaign, these Democrats plan to take down the senator many helped put in office.

Lieberman knows and acknowledges his antagonists, but campaign spokesman Sean Smith said he's not daunted.

"He thinks the emergence of blogs is an exciting development for citizens to engage in the political discourse," said Smith. "But it does feel a little strange. We're not used to this kind of opposition in our own party."

He said there are no plans for a pro-Lieberman blog.

It was Lieberman's opposing his own party, says one-time supporter J.M. Ivler, that made him join the fight with www.timetogojoe.com.

"All of a sudden, Joe was going on Fox News and undercutting the Democrats on the president's plan for Social Security reform. He went from someone who was just voting with Bush to someone who was actually attacking the [Democratic] base," Ivler said.

Once a part of Stamford's close-knit Jewish community, to which the Lieberman family belonged (both families attended the same synagogue), Ivler, who now lives in Calfornia, said he wanted to hit Lieberman where it would hurt: his war chest. He created timetogojoe.com to raise money for any qualified candidate to run against Lieberman in a Democratic primary.

Some highlights of the Internet assault are a fake A&E advertisement for a program titled "Benedict Lieberman"; a photograph of someone holding a whiteboard bearing the results of street-corner poll in New Haven showing a "Real Democrat" defeating Lieberman, 161-12; and an image of the senator, alone among Democrats, giving Bush a standing ovation during his State of the Union address.

"The campaign doesn't endorse the websites. The blogs are the blogs, and our effort are our efforts," said Liz Dupont Diehl, Lamont's campaign spokeswoman. "They are, however, an amazing outpouring of creative expression and talent - that's one way to look at the blogs. They are an outlet for people who have something very clear to say."

Myleftnutmeg.com is not strictly an anti-Lieberman target, its slogan being: "Where Connecticut Dems Scratch That Progressive Itch." But it's packed with postings complaining about Lieberman.

"My site reflects the zeitgeist as opposed to leading it," said My Left Nutmeg's founder, Kelly, who goes by first-name only. "To me, Joe Lieberman's political career is a tragedy. He started out as a hero of democratic liberalism. Now he's fallen from grace. That's a personal feeling shared by a lot of people."

Unlike the other sites, My Left Nutmeg (which displays a doctored road sign reading "Connecticut Welcomes You: Birthplace of George W. Bush. We apologize.") is almost entirely for blogging. Anyone who has a beef with Lieberman, including his acceptance of money from the Hilary Clinton campaign, can sign up and make it known.

If politics junkies can't get enough on the websites, filmmaker Richard Ray Perez ("Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election") is raising money to make a Lieberman documentary, and several amateur videos supporting Lamont are on the Web, including "Ned Lamont Rocks," which features shots of Lamont set to the Hues Corporation's "Rock the Boat," available at www.yourtube.com.

While all the Lieberman chatter may slow after the Democratic State Convention May 20, at which the party is expected to endorse Lieberman's nomination, the blogs and sites are unlikely to go away.

"If we're upset with our leaders, and we say we're upset, and we get no response, the only thing to do is to take it to the next level," Crane said. "Joe mentioned the site on Fox News with Sean Hannity two months ago, acting like it was funny.

"I don't think he's laughing anymore."

Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant

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