This just in - Joe might be stupid.
That's the sentiment of Jonathan Chait of The New Republic, who notes:
I also think liberals, myself included, might be driving ourselves a little nuts trying to divine Lieberman's motives. He keeps flip-flopping and explaining his shifts by making demonstrably false claims. What's his game? Why does he keep saying these wrong, uninformed things?
I think one answer here is that Lieberman isn't actually all that smart. He speaks, and seems to think, exclusively in terms of generalities and broad statements of principle. But there's little evidence that he's a sharp or clear thinker, and certainly no evidence that he knows or cares about the details of health care reform. At one point during the 2000 recount, the Gore campaign explained to Lieberman why lowering standards for military ballots would be totally unfair and illegal, and Lieberman proceeded to go on television and subvert the campaign's position. Gore loyalists interpreted this as a sellout, but perhaps the more plausible explanation was that Lieberman -- who, after all, badly wanted to be vice-President -- just didn't understand the details of the Gore position well enough to defend it. The guy was taken apart by Dick Cheney in the 2000 veep debate.
Chait opines that Lieberman might have been the beneficiary of stereotyping in that some believe that Jews are smart and good with numbers, and in Chait's view, Lieberman is neither.
Send your hate mail to Chait, not to me. He said it - I'm just the messenger.
But this viewpoint actually has merit and helps to explain the inexplicable about-faces and general douche-baggery that has come to define Lieberman.
He's the Mr. Magoo of the Senate, puttering cluelessly around, knocking people into ditches, all the while utterly oblivious to the pain and suffering he causes. It's a shame that the Dems have enabled this behavior for so long that they are now co-dependent, their fate forever entangled in the web Joe has woven.
Image via atmtx's photostream on flickr