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Note to the Media: New poll shows why Joe Lieberman is having problems

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I wanted to follow up on something Joe posted last night. A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows clearly why Joe Lieberman is having trouble winning his Democratic primary in Connecticut.

As I wrote yesterday, people are frustrated that the country is going in the wrong direction on every issue and nobody in Washington seems to care. The Republicans charge ahead like bulls in a china shop, while the Democrats run and hide. That's the public perception.

What that translates to is a general disdain for Republicans and anyone who embraces their wrong-direction policies or who accommodates such policies through action or inaction.

People are frustrated. They're tired of the Republicans and their arrogance, their failed policies, their incompetence, and their inability to learn and grow from their mistakes. That is why the blogs came about, and it's why we've been successful at getting a voice. We are tapping into that frustration and, yes, anger, and channeling it towards an effort to change things for the better.

And that, my reporter friends, is what is happening in Connecticut and across America.

Joe Lieberman is a victim of the anti-incumbent, anti-Republican times in which we live. He is not a victim of the peace movement. He is not a victim of the Iraq war. He is part or the larger passion play that is taking place across the country against the incumbent party in power. Republicans control the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. Americans believe our country is heading in the wrong direction and we, rightfully, are finally holding those running the country accountable, in addition to those who enable and embrace them.

I'll stop repeating myself, but this is important. Whatever happens in the Connecticut race today, the media, from George Stephanopoulos at ABC to Dan Balz at the Post, both journalists I respect a lot, are being simply lazy. The media never understood what motivates the Democratic blogs, and now they're extrapolating that misunderstanding to the fall elections. They think the blogs are about far-left anti-war politics, so they naturally now think the elections are about the same.

To wit: today's column from Dan Balz:

Lieberman's instincts for collegiality and bipartisanship, once regarded as virtues, are now seen as virtual disqualifications by his critics here and nationally.
No, no, NO. The problem isn't Lieberman's instincts, it's his actions. He has not acted in a collegial and bipartisan way. He has undercut his own party in an extremely partisan way, and has embraced a president who is incompetent and become a prime defender of that president's greatest failure. It isn't bipartisanship when you cross party lines to embrace and prop up failure. It's crazy.

Balz continues:
Long one of the Democrats' most prominent hawks, Lieberman has found himself at odds with the rank and file in his party, not only for supporting the war so vigorously but also for refusing to engage in the rhetorical combat of a politically charged moment in history. He has warned fellow Democrats that hyper-partisanship on foreign policy issues damages American interests.
No. The problem isn't that Lieberman is a hawk. I am a hawk. Second, the problem isn't that Lieberman supported the war, it's that he continues to say that the war is a good idea and apparently going swell. And finally, it is absurd for Balz to suggest that Lieberman is ailing because he has refused to engage in the rhetorical combat of a politically charged moment. The man accused every single one of us who had concerns about George Bush of being insincere at best, and fifth columnists at worst. That is about as politically charged as you can get - and worse yet, Mr. Lieberman decided to charge for the other team.

And one more point, Balz totally misconstrues what Lieberman said about the Democrats. Lieberman didn't warn us of anything. He accused us of endangering America's national security simply because we were speaking the truth about the wrong direction this country was his heading in. After 5 years of successful Republican efforts to stifle free speech and debate in America, to have one of our own adopt the Republican "dissenters are traitors" mantra simply broke the camel's back (and Lieberman reiterated the same thing yesterday). (To Balz's credit, the rest of his article points out the other reasons Connecticut voters are upset with Lieberman, but by then the damage from the article is done.)

What do I suggest the media do differently in its coverage? How about you ask us about what motivates us, rather than simply pull it out of your imagination. Interview the top bloggers. Interview the voters in Connecticut. Ask them what motivates them. Don't just assume, ASK us, ask THEM. And what you'll find is that our and their attitudes parallel YOUR OWN POLL.

We are anti-incumbent, pure and simple. So please, stop buying into Republican talking points about who we are and what this election is about, and start doing your job which is to report the truth, not the spin.
Especially worrisome for members of Congress is that the proportion of Americans who approve of their own representative's performance has fallen sharply. Traditionally, voters may express disapproval of Congress as a whole but still vote for their own member, even from the majority party. But 55 percent now approve of their lawmaker, a seven-percentage-point drop over three months and the lowest such finding since 1994, the last time control of the House switched parties.

"That's dramatic," said Republican consultant Ed Rollins, who was White House political director under President Ronald Reagan....

Among voters across the board, 38 percent say they are more likely to oppose candidates who support Bush on Iraq compared with 23 percent who are more likely to support them....

Some Republican strategists said they fear it may be enough for Democrats to hammer home on the troubles of the country. "There's just a frustration that a lot of things are going wrong and nobody in Washington understands," Rollins said. "Even though the Democrats haven't really picked up the ball and offered an alternative, the numbers keep getting worse and worse."

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