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Cup of Irish Joe: Fair-Weather Friend to Democrats

by: Maura

Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 15:56:37 PM EDT

When I initially heard that Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden would be appearing together in my hometown of Stamford, I had no interest in attending.  A friend of mine tried to RSVP for the event, though, and was told that it was open only to "Stamford Irish Democrats".

Since I'm an Irish-American Democrat from Stamford and I'd never heard of this group, I decided to stop by the event to learn more about this organization.  Given that Joe Biden is the only high-profile Senate Democrat to be willing to campaign with Joe, I thought it would be a bonus to see what he would say to reporters about Joe threatening to run as an independent if he loses the primary.

I planned just to be a fly on the wall at the event, figuring it would be a huge crowd.  But when Joe Lieberman repeated the lie that Ned Lamont is running a "one issue" campaign and then said that Lamont lacked "courage and integrity", it really got my Irish up and I decided I wouldn't stay quiet.  The fact that it was a very small crowd meant that, unexpectedly, my question got quite a bit of press attention.

Details below the jump.

UPDATE: WTNH just aired a story on the event which was framed as, "Lieberman gets harrassed by people who claim they are not from the Lamont campaign."  Mark Davis says that I claimed to be a Lieberman supporter, which is absolutely not true.  I made it very clear that I was supporting Lamont in the primary but would support Lieberman if he won the primary.  A polite question to a sitting Senator from one constituent is now harrassment?  I didn't yell, I didn't heckle, I didn't carry a sign, and if his own crowd of supporters wasn't so pathetically small, no one in the press would even have noticed what I said one-on-one with Lieberman.  Sheesh.

VIDEO UPDATE:  The amazing Spazeboy caught the WTNH coverage on his TiVo.  Thank you, Spazeboy!  You rock!

Maura :: Cup of Irish Joe: Fair-Weather Friend to Democrats
I arrived about 15 minutes before the event was to start, and the place was virtually empty other than about 20 Lieberman staffers roaming around.  I was only the second person to sign in.  Although  other people had been told that the event was closed to the public, I had no problem whatsoever getting in.

While waited for the event to begin, we heard the news that Joe Biden missed his train that morning and would not be attending.  I met Eileen Heaphy, Chair/Treasurer of Irish-American Democrats in Connecticut, the organizer of the event.  She was very cordial when I said I was there to learn more about the organization.

Soon after, Joe Lieberman himself arrived.  He came through the back entrance followed by staffers holding signs.  After shaking hands with a few people, he was introduced by Eileen Heaphy, who shared the background that her organization was founded to support President Clinton in his leadership in pursuing the Good Friday Agreement and that they were supporting Joe because of his longstanding support for the Good Friday Agreement and for illegal immigrants from Ireland.

Lieberman, wearing a tie featuring green shamrocks, joked that he was turning his "Cup of Joe" tour into a "Cup of Irish Joe" tour and made a few other predictable jokes about how much he enjoys being with Irish-Americans and people who wished they were Irish-American.

He mentioned that Joe Biden was not able to attend because he got back from Iraq very late last night and was not able to make the train this morning. 

He also mentioned that Congressman John Lewis was in Hartford today to support Congressman John Larsen and that Rep. Lewis was enthusiastically supporting him and said if he was a Connecticut Democrat, he would vote for Joe in the primary.  It struck me as hilarious that, after praising himself effusively, Joe said he was far too modest to repeat all of the great things that Rep. Lewis said about him.

Lieberman went on to talk fairly predictably about how great Clinton was in helping to broker a peace deal in Northern Ireland and how important the Good Friday Agreement is.  He said that the unionists have really failed to live up to the agreement while Sinn Fein and the IRA have done their part to disarm and keep their word.  He also covered his bases by keeping Irish nationalists happy by saying he remembered his "Irish math", that 26+6=1 (refering to the Six Counties of the North of Ireland joining with the 26 counties of the Republic to form a united Ireland).

What really got me to change from "fly on the wall" to "gadfly" was when, in response to press questions, Joe Lieberman repeated the lie that Ned Lamont is running a "one issue campaign" and that Ned Lamont was running against George Bush rather than having the "courage and integrity" to run aginst him. 

Hearing Lieberman impugn Ned Lamont's "courage and integrity" at the same time as Lieberman is repeating lies about Ned Lamont and threatening to ignore the Democratic primary results if he loses (hardly an example of courage and integrity) really got my Irish up. 

So when the press questions were over and Joe started drinking Guinness and schmoozing with the crowd, I joined the people waiting to shake hands with him.  When it was my turn, I shook his hand and introduced myself as a lifelong Democrat who also grew up in Stamford and went to Stamford High, like him.  I said my dad had been a longtime customer of his dad's package store on Hamilton Avenue, and he said, "Really?  What was your dad's name?"

I said, "Frank Keaney."

And said something like, "Frank Keaney?  Oh, I think I know him well..." (which is not true, but Joe's definitely a masterful schmoozer)

So I told him that my dad passed away in March, and he said he was sorry and asked how old my dad was.  I said he was 82 and that he voted for Democrats in every election after he became an American citizen, and then said I something like (paraphrase):

"My dad was a very loyal Democrat until he died.  You mentioned how Irish American Democrats are great supporters because they're not fair-weather friends, and I totally agree.  So why are you being a fair-weather Democrat, saying you'll only respect the results of the Democratic primary if you win?"

All of a sudden I found myself with a bunch of microphones in my face.  Joe looked slightly stunned, and then started in on his usual talking points about how he wants even more Democrats to have a chance to vote for him in November and that not all Democrats know that they have to come out for a "hot day in August".

I said, "Don't you think Connecticut Democrats are smart enough to know on what day to vote?"

He said, "I hope so" and then started to wave me off.

I forget exactly what words I said after that (there is video and audio out there somewhere) but I said something like, "Look, if you win the Democratic primary, I'll be supporting you and I wish you would agree to support the winner, too" and he said, "Well, let's make sure I win in August, then!" and waved me away, after which I was mobbed by reporters asking how to spell my name.

I was really shocked at how much attention my comment got, since I didn't shout it out to get attention during Lieberman's talk, but rather approached him one-on-one.  Apparently, some Lieberman staffers told reporters who were talking to me that I was a Lamont campaign plant, which is completely untrue. 

Joe Lieberman needs to realize that ordinary Irish-American Democrats aren't just going to lap up his pandering without asking tough questions, and if he wants to talk about fair-weather friends, he should stop being a transparent "fair-weather friend" to the party.

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Awesome. (4.00 / 4)
Can't wait to see video.  Maura=True Patriot. 

Maura and D et al are modern day "Sons of Liberty" (4.00 / 1)
You're just like those patriotic rabblerousers of yore.

Keep it up!!!

[ Parent ]
Embolden the citizenry (4.00 / 1)
The success of these movements in undermining the Stamp Act cannot be attributed to violence alone. Their most effective work was performed in newsprint. A great many of the Sons were printers and publishers themselves and even those who were not, were sympathetic to the cause. It was they who would pay the most in duties, after all. Nearly every newspaper in the colonies carried daily reports of the activities of the Sons. Accounts of the most dramatic escapades spread throughout the colonies. In one most remarkable incident, an account of the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions was printed far and wide. It is not certain how many of the editors who reprinted it were aware of the status of the resolutions, but seven were printed, while only five actually passed (the fifth was in fact rescinded the day after adoption.) The ultimate effect of such propaganda was to embolden both citizens and Legislatures in every colony. When the Stamp Act became effective on the 1st of November, 1765, nearly all of these papers went right on publishing without the required Stamp.


[ Parent ]
You Beat Me Too It (4.00 / 1)
I've been meaning to diary that bloggers are the modern day equvalent of The Sons of Liberty!

[ Parent ]
Aw, shucks. (4.00 / 1)
And I didn't even get to do my rabble-rousing.

I was spring-loaded for Biden, so I was pretty cheesed when he didn't show.

[ Parent ]
Good job, Maura (4.00 / 3)
I wish I could have been there with you.

Absolutely Brilliant. (4.00 / 1)
Amazing stuff, can't wait to see the stories start coming in.

A Fenian Heroine!! (4.00 / 2)
Well done!

Maura rocks! (4.00 / 1)
Citizen politics at it's best!  Well done Maura!

Connecticut Bob

ouch (4.00 / 1)
and the irish girl in the corner wins round one with a swift truth to the gut of a traitor.

The question is not what you are, we already determined that, we are now negotiating price.
electrealdemocrats.com Online since 3/07 -- TimetogoJoe.com Online s

Down goes Joe! Down goes Joe (4.00 / 1)
Great job Maura.

You win the big prize!

Maura, mo chuisle! Well done!! (4.00 / 1)
You did inherit the gift of the gab!  So sorry to hear about your father's passing.  My grandfather came to America from County Cavin a century ago next year, and my grandmother came from County Roscommon. 

You know, Lamont is a French name.  And since the French were always fighting the English, the Irish were always trying to link up with the French.  I believe it was an Irish soldier fighting with Napoleon who stayed behind and began making cognac over there.  Hennessey was his name!  Good lad! 

So no problems with ole' Ned!



Actually, Lamont is also Scottish (4.00 / 1)
It's a clan name with several registered tartans and everything.

[ Parent ]
No!! Can't be! (0.00 / 0)
Well that puts a whole new complexion on it doesn't it.  Well, it was probably an Irishman returning from fighting on the continent who was shipwrecked on the Scottish coast and...

[ Parent ]
Thanks, neighbor (4.00 / 2)
My dad was from County Leitrim, right next to both Cavan and Roscommon.  So we're ancestral neighbors from the great rural northwest of Ireland.  :-)

Thanks for the sympathy.  My dad would have been a citizen for 50 years last month!  I learned how to be a Democrat from him.

[ Parent ]
My father's parents are from County Ward (mother) and Kerry (father) (4.00 / 1)
I still have a cousin over there.  I visited her when I was 12.  I hope to visit her again someday.

[ Parent ]
No kidding! (0.00 / 0)
Is it time to create an Irish-Americans for Ned Lamont club?  Any excuse to gather at the pub for a pint!

By the way, I've already taught my daughter the expression, "let's go down to the corner pub and talk a little treason!" 

Where's your cousin living?

[ Parent ]
My cousin lives near where she grew up outside Castlemain in County Kerry (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Met my second cousin in Dublin years back.. (0.00 / 0)
She had married Luke Kelly's brother, the musician in the group The Dubliners, the big guy with the flamboyant shock of red curly hair. 

Never got to Cavan town, where my grandfather grew up.  I understand that my grandmother's house in Roscommon was close to the River Shannon, so that in the spring when the rains came, the river backed up close to their kitchen.

What brought your dad over way back when?

[ Parent ]
Great job! (4.00 / 1)
and remember, the only plant that Lamont has is Lorenzo. Way to go, Maura!

Well done Maura (4.00 / 2)

Thanks (4.00 / 4)
One of the other funny moments, which I forgot to mention in my story, was when Lieberman and Eileen Heaphy were making a toast over a pint of Guinness.  They both mispronounced "slainte".  It should be pronounced "slawn-cha", and they said something like, "Slayn-tee".  Obnoxious grammarian that I am, I couldn't catch myself in time before I corrected their pronunciation.  Lieberman then said, "Slainte, l'chaim" and pronounced both correctly.  :-)

[ Parent ]
Standing Ovation (4.00 / 1)
Great job, Maura. Don't let the LIEberTroll on the thread bother ya. He's probably our paid minder for the day.

Maura, a true Connecticut hero (0.00 / 0)
Great job, Maura!! Your courage is an inspiration to all of us!!!


"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."--James Madison

You did your Dad proud, Maura (4.00 / 1)
You did us all proud, thank you.

NECN (0.00 / 0)
Just saw the NECN segment.  Looked great, apparently in contrast to WTNH. (Hey, where's Spazeboy with the video? Oh - disregard.)

Had a nice wind-up, then the full question and exchange with the junior senator.  Once Maura asks the question, he just smiles, like "Oh, good one."  Then he gives some gibberish about, uh, how he's gonna win or something, and how he can apparently get more Democrats to vote for him as an independent.  (Huh?)  Follow-up with Lieberman where he says Maura must have been a Lamont supporter, because those are the only people he gets that question from - does he know that, or just assume?

Then there's a nice close-up of Ed's shirt with the Kiss button, and a good interview where he compares Lieberman to a cheating husband.  Watch real close I think you can even see the top of my head in one frame.

WTNH (0.00 / 0)
Watched the WTNH segment too.  Better shot of Maura, but they edit the question a bit. 

Even so, here's another part of Maura's question that was pure genius: she consistently referred to herself as an "Irish-American Democrat."  Now in reality, that was pretty much campaign spin.  There were maybe one or two actual members of the organization, as far as I could tell.  Fair number of Irish, but any Democratic event in an urban center will have that.

But by Maura including that, it gave the media a way to put their segment together as "Joe meets the Irish" when there was otherwise not much to the Irish angle but corny jokes and the pub.  That makes good TV, and that means it gets used more often.

[ Parent ]
D for Demsbetta - NECN Video (0.00 / 0)
Not sure if you saw, but I did catch the NECN video from the 9pm broadcast.


There's also a better quality version of the WTNH coverage appended to the end.

|Spazeboy.net|Spazeboy's Guide to Political Videoblogging|

[ Parent ]
Way to go, Maura! (0.00 / 0)
Just want to say, you did good, girl. :) And I love your poise!

pssst... Maura (0.00 / 0)
How do you feel about becoming the object of a controversy?  "Was she sent there by the Lamont campaign or wasn't she?"

If you don't mind more microphones being shoved in your face for the next few days, I'm thinking we could play this up with the media.  That would give you the opportunity to keep telling the camera why a nice Irish-American girl from Joe's hometown is voting for Ned Lamont.

You know, five or six things that are great about your candidate.  The question: Isn't it more that you don't like Lieberman?  Five or six things Joe has screwed up on.  But isn't it really just about the war?  No, because everyone knows the war's a disaster -  did I tell you about Ned?  But but but, didn't someone put you up to that question?  No I put myself up to the question because I couldn't stand how he's always saying these things that are completely belied by his actions.

We could see how much TV time we can get them to devote to the "controversy." 

Thanks for showing us what activism looks like maura (0.00 / 0)
Thank you, you rocked. It's so heartening to watch Connecticut's voters get involved and make their voices heard. Regular people are determining the course of this race. This is democracy at its finest.

Please keep up the great work. Your voice is being heard in CT, around the blogosphere, and beyond.

Disclosure: I'm proud to work for the Service Employees International Union

Maura - (0.00 / 0)
you need to put up a tip jar over at Kos - it takes alot to become and stay a TU!

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