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Much has been written here lately about the innumerable statements that Joe Lieberman has made underscoring his apparent contempt and disregard for Democrats (for a nice sampling of some of these check out Two Roads' recent diary). It seems that Lieberman has been at this a lot longer than I realized.

Recall back to November, 2000 when armies of lawyers for presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush were fighting tooth and nail for each and every ballot cast in the state of Florida. Apparently, in what has become something of his modus operandi, Joe Lieberman was saying one thing privately and an entirely different thing publicly. Follow me downstairs for more.

As Jeffrey Toobin writes in his book Too Close to Call:

Lieberman did not share the advisers' reluctance to push forward on all fronts. This became a recurring theme of the post-election period: The Connecticut senator always sounded like a warrior -- in private settings. (Much to the frustration of the hawks on Gore's team, Lieberman sounded very different before the cameras.)

One such statement has been suggested to have potentially cost Al Gore the recount battle. Robert Weissman of the Huffington Post sets the stage:

At the time, Republicans were trumpeting a memo from Mark Herron, a Gore lawyer, saying that Democrats should challenge late arriving overseas ballots -- many presumed to be military ballots that would go for Bush-Cheney -- that lacked postmarks. (In fact, the postmark was a requirement -- although such ballots were also permissible if they were signed and dated no later than the date of the election.) Lieberman knew he would be asked about this -- indeed the Gore camp sent him to answer questions from Tim Russert for exactly this reason.

More from Too Close to Call:

On Sunday morning, NBC's Tim Russert brandished the Herron memo and asked the senator right away whether Gore was trying to invalidate military ballots because of "technicalities."

"Let me just say that the vice president and I would never authorize, and would not tolerate, a campaign that aimed specifically at invalidating absentee ballots from members of our armed services," Lieberman said. "I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel generally."

Toobin continues:

Lieberman capitulated completely, ignoring several arguments that he might have made to defend the campaign's people in the field.

Back to Weissman:

This Lieberman statement ended up making a difference. Emboldened by Lieberman's concession, Republicans returned to canvassing boards in counties that Bush had carried and asked that previously excluded overseas ballots be recognized as valid. There was no pretense of adhering to the rules.

How big of a difference did this make? From this NY Times article by Ford Fessenden and John M. Broder, apparently quite a lot.

A New York Times investigation earlier this year showed that 680 of the late-arriving ballots did not meet Florida's standards yet were still counted. The vast majority of those flawed ballots were accepted in counties that favored Mr. Bush, after an aggressive effort by Bush strategists to pressure officials to accept them.

A statistical analysis conducted for The Times determined that if all counties had followed state law in reviewing the absentee ballots, Mr. Gore would have picked up as many as 290 additional votes, enough to tip the election in Mr. Gore's favor in some of the situations studied in the statewide ballot review.

Finally, if anyone wants to skip all of this reading and get a 3 minute visual version here's a clip from the movie Recount. Kevin Spacey portrays Ron Klain, the general counsel of the Gore Florida recount committee (sorry, no transcript).

This quote from Spacey (Klain) says it all: "I think Joe Lieberman just entered the 2004 primaries". It's really always been all about him hasn't it? If anyone needed another excuse to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship, I think we have one.

UPDATE: Thanks for rec list y'all. I know people are tired of all the Lieberman diaries - hell, I'm tired of Lieberman diaries - but I for one wasn't aware of this until I saw the movie last night.

Btw, as gf120581 points out, Ron Klain is going to be Biden's chief of staff.

Originally posted to blueyescryinintherain on Sun Nov 16, 2008 at 03:22 PM PST.

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