Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ned Lamont on the Colbert Report

Monday's Colbert Réport featured an interview with Connecticut Senatorial candidate Ned Lamont. Lamont is challenging incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman for the Democratic nomination, primarily on the issue that Lieberman's position on the Iraq war has been consistently ass-backwards. CrooksAndLiars has the video; here's the text of interview:


Stephen Colbert: My guest tonight is a Democratic Connecticut Senate hopeful who says Joe Lieberman is in bed with the President. I say they're in a ménage-à-trois with America. Please welcome Ned Lamont. [applause] Mr. Lamont, thanks for coming on — brave man.

Ned Lamont: Delighted to be here.

Colbert: We invited Senator Lieberman, he declined. You've got that on him. All right: have you come on to announce that you are dropping out? You're only up by 4 points in the polls.

Lamont: I've come to announce that we're going on strong. We need your help, every step of the way, between now and August 8th.

Colbert: I'm not sure if I can give you my help, sir: you just got the endorsement of the New York Times [reg. req'd]. Okay? You know that they're destroying America, you know that newspaper is destroying America, correct?

Lamont: It was a well-written, articulate analysis of the issues, and I think they came to the proper conclusion. (Really?) What do you think?

Colbert: I don't know; I just met you, sir. Let's find out. What have you got against Joe Lieberman? He's my kind of Democrat. [laughter] What's your beef with him? You're a Democrat, he's a Democrat, he's a mandarin of the Senate — why are you takin' him down?

Lamont: I think George Bush is driving this country into a ditch, and if Joe Lieberman won't challenge him, I will. I think it's time for the Democrats to stand up and pose a real alternative. [cheers] Yes.

Colbert: Oh, they're just cheering for my comeback. But Joe Lieberman has friends in high places — the President, the Republicans — I mean, he gets along with those people. You're gonna be a junior Senator when you get in there, you're not gonna have the same tug that he does — I mean, the President kissed him. Can we have that footage up there? [2005-02-02, Bush State of the Union speech, Bush kisses Lieberman on the cheek] You think the President's gonna kiss you, sir?

Lamont: I prefer a respectful handshake, I should say, but —

Colbert: I mean, obviously, the first date, just a handshake, but after a couple of years?

Lamont: We'll see where we evolve from there, if that's what you're suggesting.

Colbert: All right, so you're open to the idea?

Lamont: I'm open to the idea we need to get some people down to Washington, D.C., who will stand up to this President, say it's time to start bringing our troops home from Iraq, and give the people of Iraq the opportunity to solve this for themselves.

Colbert: So, your campaign slogan is "Cut and Run"? You're a cut-and-runner? That sounds like cutting and running.

Lamont: I think what we're doing right now is a failure of a policy. I think the situation is getting worse every month. You have 3,000 dead a month, right now, over in Iraq. I think we've gotta change course. That's our best hope for success in Iraq.

Colbert: But what do we do? What do we do with the troops? We can't leave right now. I mean, it's our — you know, things may not be going as well as we'd hoped — we're on the road toward victory, but we can't get out now. Then we've lost. If we get out now, we've lost; will you agree there?

Lamont: No, I think our best hope for success, which is a stable Iraq, is for us to start bringing our troops home and have the Iraqis step up and take responsibility for their own destiny. We'll be there for political support, we'll be there for humanitarian support and reconstruction, but only the Iraqis can solve this. We can't do it for them at the barrel of a gun.

Colbert: Okay. Word on the street is that you're running against Joe Lieberman by running against the President. You're connecting these two people in people's minds, correct? You think Lieberman gets along with the President too well.

Lamont: I think he enables this President. I think it's a President that's taken this country way off of its historical course.

Colbert: Should we hinder the President? It's a time of war right now, he's the commander-in-chief. Shouldn't we just stand behind him, unquestioningly?

Lamont: No, not when he's wrong. When he's wrong, I think it's our duty to stand up, and I think it was Joe Lieberman who chastised guys like Jack Murtha, who said "stay the course" is not a winning strategy; Senator Lieberman said, "You're undermining the credibility of the President." I think it's our obligation to stand up as citizens.

Colbert: Now, why do you think Bush... In a time of war, is that really the time to be asking whether we should be at war?

Lamont: We've been over there 3½ years, we've been over there in Iraq almost longer than our troops were in World War II.

Colbert: Once it's over, we can ask whether we should leave.

Lamont: At the pace we're going, we're gonna be there for an awful long time. I think the best hope for us is to start bringing those troops home. We've gotta start asking those questions now. Look, we got into this mess not because we asked too many questions but because we asked too few. And now is the time to start asking those questions.

Colbert: All right, but Lieberman's a Democrat, you must agree on a lot of things, right? He's pro-choice, he's for taxing and spending like other Democrats — anything else besides the war you're battling over here? If the war ends, if between now and the election — which is 8 days from now, correct? — we could turn the corner in Iraq between now and the 8th, and then where would you be left, what's your campaign based on other than opposition to the war?

Lamont: Well, I think the war was the defining issue, it says a lot about what type of a country we are, what our priorities are. Here we are, spending $250,000,000.00 a day in Iraq and we're not investing in universal health care for all Americans, we're not investing in clean energy, we're not investing in great schools. People I'm talking to want us to start taking care of America and start investing in America again. From Joe Lieberman, all they hear is all Iraq all the time. He's been wrong on that issue from the very beginning.

Colbert: Now, are you — who's a greater friend of the state of Israel? You or Joe Lieberman? Is there a greater friend of the state of Israel than you?

Lamont: I believe the Senator and I are both committed to Israel's security and well-being, so I think Israel — that's part of our bipartisan tradition in this country. It goes back a long time, and that's not going to change. (So, no difference there between the two of you?) No great difference, no, sir. I will say, though, when it comes to Israel, the invasion of Iraq has done nothing for Israel's security. It's emboldened Iran, and a bolder Iran makes Israel even more vulnerable. I think we took our eye off the ball when the United States should have played its historical rôle as a peacekeeper, and that's one of the reasons we have the troubles in Israel we have today.

Colbert: But we got Qadhafi (معمر القذافي) to stand down. You'll give me that, right? (I will give you that.) Okay, fantastic. (That gives you an idea of what the power — ) So, you give that to Lieberman, too?

Lamont: I give that to the power of diplomacy. It gives you an idea, if even Qadhafi can be turned around, look at what we might be able to do with Iran and other parts of the country [sic] if we engage them in constructive diplomacy.

Colbert: What got you into the race? Did you look at the war and what was happening there, and say, someone has to stand up against Lieberman because he's not fighting the President hard enough? Was it the war that motivated you mostly?

Lamont: The war was very important, but just fundamentally, I think the President's taken the country in the wrong direction. I look at $9,000,000,000,000.00 in debt, I look at Dick Cheney's energy bill with billions of dollars of subsidies for the oil producers, I look at 63 lobbyists for every single Congressman in Washington, D.C. — I think we are way off our moorings, and it's time for people to go down to Washington, D.C., and say so.

Colbert: Sir, you're rich, and best of all, you didn't have to work for all of it — why aren't you a Republican?

Lamont: I've been a Democrat all my life. When I turned 18, we had a guy named Richard Nixon who was our President, and we had a war going on in Viet Nam, and I just think the Democratic Party is a lot more progressive and a lot more entrepreneurial. I'm a guy that started up a business from scratch, and I think if you're an entrepreneur in business, you're more likely to be a progressive and a Democrat when it comes to your political.

Colbert: All right, thank you for coming on, sir. Senator Lieberman, the ball's in your court.

Coming soon: my analysis and commentary on the American Bar Association task force report on Presidential signing statements. The report, issued last Monday (2006-07-25) hasn't gotten nearly enough media attention.

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