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Serious Stuff

The Attack of Toad Man

by Somebody Else
December 15, 2009

You might remember from the Star Wars prequels a character named Senator Palpatine, who initially seemed to be a good guy working on behalf of the Republic. The actor that portrayed him looks a lot like Joe Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut. Anyway, you may recall that this Senator Palpatine turns out to be scheming behind the scenes so that he can turn the Republic into an Empire with himself as dictatorial leader. He turns to the dark side and becomes kind of like the main sponsor and foster dad to Anakin Skywalker, whom he molds into the super evil Darth Vader. Senator Palpatine is then himself transformed into a staunch neoconservative known as Darth Sidious. But allow me to make things clear. Senator Palpatine and Senator Lieberman are two completely different characters. One is able to shoot lightning from his fingers and rule the galaxy with an iron fist. The other is a film character.

Actually, a comparison that fits better for me would be to assign Joe Lieberman the role of an imaginary comic book character. I have invented one for him, and I thus dub him Toad Man, partly because of the shape of his face, which I find somehow suggestive of a toad, but mostly because his behavior in recent years has been rather toad-like.

Let's review. First, he was the vice-presidential candidate running with Al Gore in 2000. I don't remember too well what was going on back then, but I can share my general impressions of the man from that time.

Gore is from the Tennessee, so I can see why he might want to pick Lieberman from Connecticut to balance out the ticket, you know, the north-south thing. Also, I do recall that Lieberman had some conservative credentials that Gore was lacking. Don't get me wrong, at the time Gore certainly didn't come across as a firebrand liberal, he seemed more in line with the political centrism of Bill Clinton. Still, I suppose somebody figured that they ought to add Joe Lieberman to the ticket to appeal more to religious conservatives, since Lieberman himself belongs to a conservative Jewish denomination. Also, it was pretty evident from the beginning that Lieberman was the kind of guy that would side with corporations over working-class Americans time and time again, which might earn the Gore-Lieberman ticket a lot of votes from people who fervently believe in Ronald Reagan's trickle-down economic theories, and apparently there are a whole lot of them out there, probably a few dozen at least invested their money in Bernie Madoff.

Lieberman's campaign speeches in 2000 were rather dry and pompous pronouncements directed at people who were either Democrats on the verge of becoming Republicans, Independents on the verge of falling asleep in front of the television, or Republicans on the verge of pushing the wrong button in the election booth owing to the effects of Alzheimer's. Basically, he was by implication saying: "Yeah, Gore is a tricky liberal, but you can count on me because when it comes right down to it, I'm on the dark side and believe in doing cruel and nasty things that appeal to your overblown sense of patriotism, your petty prejudices, and your need to rationalize away the selfish things that you do and subscribe to. Vote for me and Gore, and if he dies in office, you can count on me to head things off in a vastly different direction. I'll make sure to flush his political legacy down the toilet in short order." Well, at least that is what I personally got from listening to his speeches. I went to the voting booth only to stop Bush and Cheney, not because of any burning desire to put Toad Man only a heartbeat away from the presidency.

I don't know, maybe at some point during the campaign, Toad Man realized that his efforts to influence Al Gore's presidency would be completely restricted, so he went and talked to Dick Cheney and told him he wanted out, the whole thing had been a mistake, and being vice president had the potential to ruin his political career by making him look totally ineffectual for at least four years. So, maybe Dick Cheney said to him, no worries, Joe, we've got a plan ready in Florida that can't lose.

With that assurance, perhaps Toad Man and Dr. Evil Dick Cheney were able to have their pleasant and absolutely inconsequential vice presidential debate in 2000. It was like two good old friends from way back had met for coffee to talk about old times, slap each other on the back, whatever. Maybe Toad Man knew that the whole thing had become a puppet show at that point, so he was able to kick back and enjoy himself for the remainder of the ride.

So, what was Toad Man up to during the eight years of the Cheney administration? Check his record in the Senate. He supported the most important Cheney administration initiatives. Do you want war in Iraq? Toad Man is your man. Do you want the Patriot Act? Toad Man is your man. However, to be fair, plenty of Democrats fell in line behind him on those matters, so he didn't exactly stand out from the crowd at that time.

Toad Man was for the most part out of the limelight during those Cheney administration years. But he surged back with a vengeance once John McCain secured the Republican nomination for the presidency, and Barack Obama got the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Jumping across party lines, and echoing former turncoat Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller's endorsement of George Bush in 2000, Toad Man threw his support behind the crusty old military guy. Fortunately for the nation, nobody seemed to give half a damn about it except for the media, which went into full feeding frenzy mode. In the end, it was determined that precisely sixty-five people switched their vote from Obama to McCain because of the Lieberman endorsement. Well, I just made that up, but I don't imagine that it's too far off from the truth.

Addicted to his recent taste of the national spotlight, and longing for more, Toad Man then found his true calling in striving to destroy President Obama's earnest efforts at reforming the nation's broken health-care system. In this, unlike his who-gives-a-damn McCain endorsement, Toad Man discovered that he had real power. In fact, it has turned out that regarding whatever part of the health care bill has teeth, he has proven be the one deciding vote on the matter, and every time his position has been to rip those teeth out like some kind of psycho dentist. So, Harry Reid and his friends figure they've got to give Toad Man more concessions or he'll filibuster with the Republicans, so they give him some more of what he wants, but he still wants more, so they give him that too, but he still wants more, and on and on. In the end, he will probably demand that the entire bill be called the Joe Lieberman Insurance Giveaway Bill, and if they can't handle that he will filibuster with the Republicans. I mean, please, come on folks, when does it end with this guy?

Thanks to Toad Man, we now have a health care bill heading through Congress that needs denture cream. The House of Representatives came up with a pretty good youthful, smiling and fairly well muscled health care bill, but thanks to Toad Man, the Senate will soon be submitting a beat up, feeble, toothless old man kind of a bill that pretty much amounts to a red-ribbon-bowtie present to the insurance industry. In the end, when the two bills are merged in committee, the Senate version will predominate, as usual. Thank you, Toad Man, for playing the key role in turning President Obama's health care bill into a complete and total joke. Thank you, for kicking meaningful health care reform another two thousand years down the road. We are indebted to your wisdom and moral backbone.

Here's my personal advice to Toad Man. Please, just go ahead and join the Republican Party. Why are you still caucusing with the Democrats? What do you expect to accomplish by doing this? Wait, guess what? I'm not interested in what you have to say. Those were only rhetorical questions.

Better yet, please just retire and go away. You've got plenty of money hoarded away in a big fat bank account somewhere -- lots of money either directly or indirectly derived as a consequence of your connections to the wealthy and powerful, people whose interests you vigilantly look out for. Why don't you invite them all for a few days outing on your big old yacht? You could all do some deep-sea Marlin fishing or something. That would provide for a bit of excitement and interest, don't you think?

Sure, he is an Independent, but where it really counts he is siding with the Republicans time and time again. People of Connecticut, the next time this guy runs for his Senate seat, elect somebody else, even if you vote for the most neoconservative Republican out there -- at least he'll be someone who is up-front about being a full-on Snidely Whiplash kind of guy. At least you won't have Toad Man up in the Senate to wreck the President's agenda by infiltrating and subverting the Democratic Party.

Please, don't let Senator Toad Man Palpatine make the deadly transformation into Emperor Darth Sidious. I don't know how it could happen, but he might pull it off somehow, maybe with Dr. Evil Dick Cheney's help from behind massive closed mahogany doors and jet black crushed velvet curtains. We could all be sucked down into some kind of dark energy vortex and burned to cinders by endless flashes of purple lightning as the evil overlords of government muahahaha while looking down from the observation deck of a death star.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...