Jennifer Medina of the NY Times has been covering the Lieberman-Lamont Democratic primary brawl in Connecticut and today she touches a nerve:
For Some Jews, Israel and Iraq Cloud View on Lieberman
HARTFORD, July 26 — Lesley Korzennik walked into a diner in Norwalk recently hoping to vent her frustrations with Senator Joseph I. Lieberman — over his continued support for the war, among a litany of other things. “I’m furious at him,” she said.
But when she was asked about how she would vote in the Democratic primary next month, Ms. Korzennik, 46, who says she strongly supports Israel, sighed. “Given all that’s going on in Israel right now,” she said, “I am not going to let Lieberman go.”
Ms. Korzennik expresses the mixed sentiments a significant number of Jewish Democrats feel about Mr. Lieberman, who is facing the toughest race in his three-term Senate career, just six years after he was Al Gore’s running mate.
There is little question that Mr. Lieberman enjoys strong support in the national Jewish community, and several pro-Israel groups and prominent Jewish donors are rallying to funnel money and manpower to defend his seat. Many of the senator’s Jewish allies also assert that concern about his political fate, as well as about Israel, is likely to increase Jewish turnout for Mr. Lieberman in the primary.
But Mr. Lieberman’s supporters also acknowledge that his challenger, Ned Lamont, is receiving substantial support from Jewish voters, as well as some prominent Jewish Democrats.
“There’s no appreciable difference between the two of them on Israel,” said David B. Pudlin, the former Democratic majority leader in the Connecticut House, and one of Mr. Lamont’s more prominent Jewish advisers. “It is about Iraq, affirmative action, health care — these are things Jewish voters are going to care about.”
Well, well - let's skip straight to the mud-slinging. This is from some recent Times coverage of Ned Lamont:
Mr. Lamont wears moderately priced suits from Jos. A. Bank and, at 52, still uses words like heck and poppycock. He quit an exclusive country club in Greenwich this year, saying it was too white and too rich and he did not want it to become a campaign issue.
The country club was "Too white and too rich"? The club in question is the Round Hill Club, where George Bush 41 met Barbara and Sen. Prescott Bush was once president.
And here is another description from Kevin Rennie, writing in the Hartford Courant:
Lamont recently discovered, for example, that the oh-so-waspy Round Hill Club in Greenwich is, well, not terribly inclusive, Biff. Golly, candidates for the U.S. Senate must do a lot of reflecting on how to make this world a better place for you and me. And they often discover that the very white, very Protestant associations they have enjoyed for many years are just not right, now that the world is taking a closer look at them.
"Oh so wasp-y". I bet if the Times reporters made a few phone calls they would find that the Round Hill Club did not rush to embrace Jewish members over the years (that is based in part on the "Gentlemen's Agreement" history of the Fairfield County area, and in part on my own ear-to-the ground rumor-mongering); I bet if they poked around, they would find that even today, the Round Hill Club is viewed as a WASP bastion.
Or maybe not! But how can the Times just slide past this? Ned Lamont does not want it to be an issue, so the Times accepts that at face value? Don't they even want to know just what the non-issue might have been? C'mon we are talking about a virtually unknown candidate for the US Senate here - if he happily hung about in a de facto WASP-only club for ten years and then quit as a matter of political expediency, shouldn't the Times try to figure out why? Especially in a story about how Jewish voters perceive the two candidates?
My guess - the Times would love to cover a three-way Senate race this fall, so they are comfortable going into the tank for Lamont right now. The fact that he is anti-war and anti-Bush (now that he quit his club) is just gravy.
BONUS LAUGHTRACK: I guess we see one reason Lamont did not want to release his tax return:
Ned Lamont, the Greenwich multimillionaire who is challenging Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in next month’s Democratic primary, had an adjusted gross income of more than $2.8 million last year, according to the 2005 tax return his campaign released yesterday.
Mr. Lamont paid $621,213 in federal taxes and $43,074 in real estate taxes in 2005. He claimed $5,385 in charitable contributions.
Mr. Lamont had a salary of $546,044, and received capital gains of more than $1.7 million, according to the tax returns.
$5,385 in charitable contributions? Is he kidding? Let me segue to a story about either Bob Rubin or Jon Corzine (these Goldman Sachs chairman all blur together to me) - apparently, Rubin/Corzine had a favored conversational gambit when he met a fellow Goldman employee in the elevator or about the office - he would ask what charity they supported. If the abashed secretary, associate, or whatever could come up with a charity, Rubin/Corzine would contribute $5,000 to it. As I recall, his goals were to demonstrate his own commitment to the charitable process and to encourage his employees to do likewise.
Well. I have no doubt that both Rubin and Corzine are real Democrats.
UPDATE: Lamont and his wife give about $200,00 per year through the Lamont Family Fund.