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August 4, 2006
Don't Stand So Close To Me

John Dickerson in Slate takes Ned Lamont to task for feigning ignorance of the blogroots he cultivated in his run for Joe Lieberman's seat now that one of the blogroots leaders has embarrassed his campaign. While everyone understands that Jane Hamsher ran the minstrel-show photoshop of Lieberman on her own accord, Lamont clearly lied about knowing nothing of blogs and bloggers:

"I don't know anything about the blogs," he said according to Dan Balz in the Washington Post. "I'm not responsible for those. I have no comment on them."

Oh my.

If Lamont wants to get to Washington, he's going to need to learn one of the most important senatorial clichés: "I'd like to revise and extend my remarks." He can't run from the bloggers. And he can't run from Hamsher, who has raised money for him, boosted him tirelessly, and even helped him shoot a video blog. He's their guy. He put Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos, in a campaign ad. Bloggers are integrated into his Web site. One contributor to a Connecticut blog designed a fabulous float depicting the Bush-Lieberman kiss. It has been used to lampoon Lieberman across the state and is used in this Lamont ad. He can't say the bloggers aren't his problem now.

Lamont, who thus far remains the "not Lieberman" choice, is also missing a chance to be senatorial. His spokeswoman denounced Hamsher. Why didn't he? The campaign asked Hamsher to take down the image from her post; she did, and then offered the non-apology preferred by loutish boyfriends—I'm sorry if I made you upset. Lamont should have gone further to show some spine.

The rise of Ned Lamont has been impressive, speaking as someone who can appreciate the power of the blogosphere conceptually, putting aside partisan concerns. Lamont has plenty of his own money, but what he lacked was political traction -- until Markos Moulitsas and Hamsher decided to savage Lieberman in the primary. He has come from nowhere to outpoll a longtime incumbent, a man who ran as his party's Vice Presidential candidate just six years ago. That journey came courtesy of the netroots, at least in part.

That's why the sudden amnesia on bloggers sounds so false. Hamsher accompanied him on at least one television appearance, and she shot an Internet advertisement for his campaign -- with Lamont in front of the camera. (Hamsher has experience as a Hollywood producer; her list of producer credits tends to lean towards serial murder, starting with Natural Born Killers.) Blogs have raised money for Lamont, campaigned for Lamont, and served as his attack dogs against Lieberman, allowing Lamont and his official campaign to take the high road.

Dickerson says that this will serve as a cautionary tale not to get too involved with bloggers. However, there's really no difference between dealing with bloggers and dealing with 527s or any other groups over which a campaign has no power to control the message. The real cautionary tale teaches that feigning ignorance makes a politician look like a liar. When Sister Souljah made incendiary racial comments during Bill Clinton's first campaign, Clinton didn't pretend not to know who she was or to make the excuse that the rapper had no "official" position in his campaign. He turned on her and scolded her for her race-baiting in a move that bolstered Clinton among moderates, and made clear that he was in charge of his own campaign.

Lamont could learn a lesson from Clinton -- except that Clinton's campaigning for Lamont's opponent.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 4, 2006 6:44 AM

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» Lamont Runs Far, Far Away from Unhinged Weblog Supporters from The American Mind
The man who wants to beat Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont doesn't "know anything about the blogs" after one of... [Read More]

Tracked on August 4, 2006 9:47 AM

» Lamont Runs Far, Far Away from Unhinged Weblog Supporters from The American Mind
The man who wants to beat Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont doesn't "know anything about the blogs" after one of... [Read More]

Tracked on August 4, 2006 12:41 PM

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