It didn’t have to be this way.
Granted, you and I were never like Bogey and Bacall, Tracey and Hepburn, Sodom and Gomorrah. We were never gonna set the world on fire with our passion. But there were good times, times we sat up all night arguing tax policy over a bottle of tequila and a salt shaker. Times when, even though we still disagreed when the sun came up, you’d look at me and I’d look at you and we both knew, deep down, that we were sitting across the table from honorable people who wanted the best for their country.
I miss those days, Joe. I miss the hope they represented. I miss the man you were then. If you were still that man, it wouldn’t have to be like this.
That’s what hurts in all this, Joe. Not that you’re well on your way to losing a primary race for U.S. Senate that should have been a cakewalk for you. But that there had to be a primary challenge this aggressive at all.
Because for all the blathering on about blogofascism and the role of the Internet’s trucks and what blogger did what to promote your opponent and what part your opponent’s considerable rakish charm and political savvy played, what this primary really tells us all is just how cheaply you sold yourself, Joe.
Look around you today. Look at the passionate activism, the voter engagement, the way people are willing to jump on planes and walk the streets and build floats and wave signs and sleep on other people’s floors and couches all for the chance to participate in a democracy. Look at the national media, focused on the concerns of your very own constituents like they’re the barometer for the rest of the nation. Look at all the attention being paid to the people you once cared about, Joe. Look at the spotlight on the job you used to love.
That all could have been yours.
That could have been yours if you had stood up to the president when he dragged us into a war with no cause and no solution.
That could have been yours if you had laughed off reporters’ invitations, near-constant, to trash members of your own party on television.
That could have been yours if you acted for one single solitary second like you still wanted this job instead of swanning around like the voters of Connecticut owed you a living.
If you’d done all that, even if you’d lost anyway, you still could have thrown yourself a hell of a party. You still could have walked out with style and grace, thanked everybody for busting their asses for you, told them you’d always busted your ass for them and meant it. You could have retired gracefully, pleased with what you’d accomplished, a bit disappointed perhaps, but willing, in any case, to hand the reigns over to someone with whom you shared a party affliation, basic bedrock commonalities, principles, as you so like to say.
Instead, look what you did. You sold out your constituents and you sold out the Constitution, to suck up to a Republican president when he was popular, and it left you with nowhere to turn when he wasn’t. You sold out your friends to get face time on TV, criticizing the head of the Democratic National Committee, a Democratic president, Democratic presidential candidates, Democratic senators and representatives and finally, Democratic voters. You know, the ones your campaign has been talking about for weeks as “wackos.”
And when somebody stood up to you, did you debate him graciously, credit his supporters with passion for the political process, engage in a campaign of ideas? No, you ran the Republican’s shotgun play, dropping flyers accusing him of racism, making fun of his money (you yourself hardly being in the poorhouse) and saying his backers were nuts. It was mean, it was small, and it made me feel icky for having once liked you.
You’ve done some incredible things in your life, Joe. Your campaign likes to talk about them, about your support for the powerless against the powerful, about the times in your youth when you stood up for those under attack.
Your country was under attack, Joe, from without and within, and instead of standing up for sensible solutions to terrorist threats and checks on government power, you thew your lot in with “my president, right or wrong, and when wrong, to be whined about a lot on Fux News because it’s all the Democrats’ fault, anyway.”
And now you’re out there trying to say everybody else has bad ideas?
Joe, Joe, Joe. Memories do not a lasting relationship make. Just because we have history doesn’t mean we can have a future. Stop calling. Stop asking. Stop skywriting my name and stop sending me flowers. You know I hate chrysanthemums.
It didn’t have to be like this, Joe. But it is. Please leave. We’ll always have Paris, but Ned is my boyfriend now. I’m a little bit sorry. I hate to see anybody’s potential wasted, but you did this to yourself.
It’s not me, it’s you.
Thanks for the good times. I can still taste the tequila.