I Always Stand When Senators Call

He joked we could start a consulting firm, Lieberman & Fox. Then he asked if there was anything he could do?

I was here at the computer a few minutes ago when the phone rang. I haven’t been up that long. I have an unanswered message. Maybe it was that person calling back?

“This is Kristin calling from Senator Lieberman’s office,” came the voice on the other end. She had an eloquent presence on-the-phone I wish I heard more often. She asked me to wait for the Senator.

I stood and began to pace.

Last Friday a colleague was interviewing the senator. As they chatted off-camera he told Senator Lieberman what had happened to me.

I was thinking about that when Kristen came back on the line. Senator Lieberman had asked her to place the call, but didn’t pick-up when she rang him back. Would it be OK if she called back?

I have known Joe Lieberman for a long time. We don’t always see eye-to-eye politically (I have shifted farther left while he has shifted farther right), but I like him. He’s a very smart man. I value that greatly.

A few years ago I had kidded on-the-air about having “Geoffmentum,” a play on his “Joementum.” I ran into him the next day in New Haven where he smiled and told me he should be collecting royalties from me for using it! I was flattered he even knew.

We had a nice conversation today. He joked we could start a consulting firm, Lieberman & Fox. Then he asked if there was anything he could do?

I suspect he knew this before he picked up the phone, but the mere act of calling was the most important thing he could do. Calls like his and the amazing response from viewers have been my strength. Please keep this in mind when your friends and relatives are in stressful situations–your call and support really are important!

As a politician he’s had his share of rejection. I said I thought he could teach me how to better deal with that, but he said it never gets easier.

He encouraged me to stay in Connecticut. “Grow where you’re planted,” he said, attributing the phrase back to our late Governor Ella Grass.

I’m open to everything, but from a practical standpoint that might not be an option.

Is Dodd Done?

To me it has always seemed Connecticut is an address of convenience for Senator Dodd. He’s from Connecticut the way ships are registered in Liberia and Panama or businesses are incorporated in Delaware and the Cayman’s.

Christopher_Dodd_official_portrait_2-cropped.jpgJust as I was getting set for bed the Twitterverse started going a little nuts with word Senator Christopher Dodd will announce he’s not running for reelection to his Senate seat. The announcement, if true, is a shocker even though I’ve been telling anyone who’d listen he was unelectable.

Unelectable candidates run all the time. They lose. I assume he figured that out.

He’s run and won six times. Thirty years in the Senate. Quite a record. Alas, here in Connecticut the bloom is off the rose.

Every time a sleazy rock is turned over concerning banking or finances there seems to be signs Chris Dodd has been there. His mortgage deal with Countrywide, sweetheart or not, never seemed like the kind of deal I’d get.

In the NY Times Gail Collins wrote of his opportunism and Connecticut’s skepticism:

The trouble began with Dodd’s presidential campaign when he famously attempted to win over the voters in the Iowa caucus by moving his entire family to the state and enrolling his daughter in an Iowa kindergarten. Iowa, you may remember, responded enthusiastically and awarded him nearly 1 percent of the vote. Connecticut was mortified.

Mortified. Exactly.

I’ve only met Chris Dodd three of four times in my 25 years here. At a UCONN basketball victory parade I jumped on the back of a flatbed truck and interviewed Dodd and Joe Lieberman on live TV.

The truck began to move as I was clumsily climbing on. Senator Dodd leaned over and reached out to help. He has the softest hands I have ever felt on a man!

A few years ago I walked into the conference room as Ann Nyberg was getting set to interview him. I looked at the Senator and said, “I’m just a typical American boy from a typical American town.”

Nyberg was confused. She flashed a quizzical look. Too young to understand.

Dodd smiled and continued, “I believe in God and Senator Dodd and keeping old Castro down.”

We were doing lines from Phil Ochs’ “Draft Dodger Rag.” The Senator Dodd in the song was Chris Dodd’s dad, Tom. Being in the Senate was like being in a family business.

To me it has always seemed Connecticut is an address of convenience for Senator Dodd. He’s from Connecticut the way ships are registered in Liberia and Panama or businesses are incorporated in Delaware and the Cayman’s.

427px-Richard_Blumenthal_at_West_Hartford_library_opening.jpgMore than likely this opens the door for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to run.

For Republicans this is a worst case scenario. Dodd was weak. Blumenthal is strong and well liked. It will be tough to muddy this consumer oriented former Marine.

Dick Blumenthal is a retail politician appearing and pressing the flesh at more events than any three other pols in Connecticut. I suspect more Connecticut residents have had personal contact with the AG than any other elected official. That kind of stuff pays off.

Now I can go to sleep.

If The Democrats No Longer Need Lieberman

So, what happens if the Democrats sweep the House, Senate and elect a president? It’s certainly not out of the question. I think the loser is Lieberman and by proxy, Connecticut.

I suspect we’re about to face an interesting political dilemma in Connecticut.

Right now, the Democrats control both branches of Congress. The majority in the Senate is razor thin. Democrats control by two, but only if you include Senate independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Though he ran against, and beat, the endorsed Democratic candidate in the last election, Lieberman enjoys the benefits of the Democratic majority. From his own website:

In 2006, Senator Lieberman was elected to a fourth term as an Independent, because of the strength of his record and his accomplishments for the state. He won the general election by more than 100,000 votes. He remains committed to caucusing with Senate Democrats, but will be identified as an Independent Democrat (ID-CT).

That last sentence was written before Senator Lieberman endorsed Republican Senator John McCain’s Republican bid for president. That followed two years where Lieberman sided with the president (and against the Democrats) on many issues, including Iraq and National intelligence.

So, what happens if the Democrats sweep the House, Senate and elect a president? It’s certainly not out of the question. I think the loser is Lieberman and by proxy, Connecticut.

Why would the Democrats keep Lieberman in a position of power while their own loyal members wait? I don’t think they will.

  • Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
  • Member of the Armed Services Committee
  • Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee
  • Member of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee

This is really all academic. Whatever happens will play out behind closed doors and without consulting the people of Connecticut. We’ll only feel its effect in Lieberman’s reduced power… though it’s tough to quantify that power right now.

This is one of those unintended consequences no one anticipates.

I Voted Today

Photo from my Motorola RAZR cameraphone

7 Nov ’06, 3.15pm EST

Originally uploaded by Geoff Fox.

This might sound naive or Pollyanna’ish, but I voted and the mere act of walking in the booth and pulling the levers made me feel good. This is a wonderful country based on fundamental values worth protecting.

My single vote won’t tip any races, but it’s still incredibly important. I really feel that way.

I had a discussion with a relative yesterday. He never votes. I was shocked. It’s his choice, but I couldn’t imagine not voting.

I remember my mom bringing me into the booth with her. I was a little boy and she was voting at PS 200 on Jewel Avenue in Flushing. It was virtually the same machine I voted on today.

My first vote on my own was at Mallard Creek #2 in Charlotte, NC in 1971. Nixon versus McGovern brought everyone out. It’s the only time I ever remember a significant wait in line. Again, the machine was the same.

This will probably be the last time I pull a lever on one of the old mechanical machines. New technology is coming. I am suspicious of the new electronic machines.

A few days ago, eBay sent me a note, telling me they had canceled an auction I participated in. Only, the auction had already ended and I had already paid for and received the merchandise. All the usual details of my transaction have been removed from my eBay page! It’s as if the transaction never happened.

Can that be done with my vote too?

On the news over the past few days I’d seen stories about how ‘buried’ Joe Lieberman’s name was on the ballot. He’s right. He’s in that ballot ghetto, way down at the bottom. It’s an area normally reserved for fringe candidates. In the poorly lit booth, some people will miss it.

I will watch with interest tonight as the votes come in. There’s more anticipation and angst for me than there’s been in a long time. Connecticut is in the national spotlight for the first time in a long time. There are other contests I’m watching from across the country.

I’m so glad to have participated.


On-the-air a few days ago, I followed a story about Senator Joe Lieberman. Somehow it seemed right, so I talked about myself and “Geoffmentum,” as opposed to his “Joementum.”

Flash forward to yesterday evening. I was walking through Downtown New Haven with a co-worker when he spied Senator Lieberman and his wife Hadassah, walking across the street.

“Do you want to meet him,” I asked? We crossed over and, like a couple of stalkers, approached from behind.

I yelled, “Joe.” The Liebermans turned around.

It was a nice evening and a pleasant conversation. Twice, young couples came up to offer their support of his candidacy. The praise was effusive and I was a little surprised. For a candidate, these were dream encounters.

After a few minutes of chatting, Senator Lieberman looked at me sternly. “You know,” he said, “I have “Joementum” protected. You’ll be hearing from my attorney.”

And then he grinned.

I’m not sure how often he can say this anymore, after all, he is in the midst of the fight of his political life, but last night it was good to be Joe Lieberman.

Election Prognostication

So much for my election predictions! Lamont did go on to defeat Joe Lieberman, who now will run as an independent.

There have been few contested elections in my time here in Connecticut – certainly never a hotly contested primary with broad national interest.

This does set up an interesting situation as we move toward November.

Political Prediction

I am writing this while the Connecticut polls are still open. This page doesn’t go ‘live’ until after the polls have closed.

I wanted to make a few predictions. I’ll post them right or wrong.

For US Senate (Democrat), Joe Lieberman squeaks out a win. The Lamont campaign peaked last week. This goes against the most recent polls which show Ned Lamont ahead.

For Connecticut Governor (Democrat), John DeStefano by a significant margin. This prediction pretty much echoes the polls.

I am no political pundit. On the other hand, I predict the future for a living.

Sub Base New London Saved

I am stunned. I never wrote about it here, there being so much controversy and it being a seemingly political issue, but when the BRAC commission originally announced the New London submarine base would close, I figured it was a done deal.

From the Hartford Courant:

Connecticut officials reacted with joy.

“Yahoo!” said U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. “Submarine base New London lives, and I think that it will live forever.”

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she was in tears as she listened to the decision while in her car on the way to New London. The governor said she had someone in her office hold a phone to a television set so she could hear the vote. “We did it! We did it!” Rell said.

It seemed, as a Blue State, Connecticut had little pull in 21st Century Washington. The BRAC commission was supposed to be non-partisan, but…

Well, I could not have been any more wrong!

Forget about security for a moment, because I am not qualified to judge how much more or less secure our nation would be with submarines based elsewhere. My concern was Connecticut and how our state’s well being would be affected.

In terms of economics this would have been a tragic body blow to the state. All those people and jobs, all that money and commerce, all the subcontractors necessary to run the base – gone.

Before the advent of casino gambling, Southeastern Connecticut was an economic black hole. This would have brought us back to where we were before the casinos and then some.

Am I looking at this from a selfish standpoint? Absolutely.

On The Radio – WTIC With Diane Smith

I get to go on the radio often enough so it’s a treat – seldom enough that it’s not a pain in the ass. This was my morning to sit in with Diane Smith on WTIC.

I’ve known Diane since I came to Connecticut. She used to report and anchor at our TV station. That she’s not still there is a major shame – but I think she’s happy in radio, where she’s half the morning team on WTIC.

WTIC is one of the last of the blowtorch 50,000 watt AM stations. It is an AM station that still has an audience. That’s a rarity all by itself.

There was a time, not too long ago, when WTIC had the highest rated morning show in the country with Bob Steele. The show itself was an anachronism – something that could never be restarted today. But, Bob had the most important ingredient for a successful morning show – longevity!

My alarm was set for 4:15, but as I wrote in an earlier post, I couldn’t sleep. By 4:45 I was out of the house and on my way to Farmington.

Any time I’ve gone online for directions to WTIC I’m give a route through the next town to my north. It’s a trip full of stop lights and traffic. But at this time of day… well, I just headed north.

The first Dunkin’ Donuts was closed, but as I approached a second I could see lights on and cars in the lot. I parked, got out, and found the door locked. The folks sitting there in their cars knew what I’d find, but kept their silence. I don’t quite get that.

I didn’t think I had time to wait, so I headed north again.

A few minutes later I drove by a health club – also not open and with cars in the lot. This time there were people standing in front of the entrance. Just standing there, aimlessly, at 4:55 AM.

I guess it’s wonderful when people want to exercise and be healthy and fit. Waking up before 5:00 to do that seems troublesome… and then to be kept waiting. Isn’t that just a little cruel?

WTIC is in a low rise brick building in an office park in Farmington, not far from Robertson Airport. The building itself is the poster child for nondescript. There’s nothing that sets this building apart. It’s not pretty. It’s not ugly. It’s just sort of there.

WTIC is part of Infinity’s group of stations in Hartford. They’re all clustered together on the ground floor.

The WTIC studio is quite functional and very nice. Diane sat behind the console, where her partner normally sits and I sat facing her. Along the edge of the studio were microphones and room for more guests to sit in.

Off to the side, and behind, are other control rooms used for production and news. The place was pretty busy Monday morning.

Being an old line AM radio station there’s plenty of service in the morning. The station features a full newsroom – a real newsroom staffed by actual adults! Wow! There just aren’t too many of those left (Newsrooms that is – there are plenty of adults). Our show also had a sports reporter and meteorologist.

I knew most of the people there, though not that well. Everyone was friendly. Everyone was nice. Everyone on our show was a pro who could easily move to a larger market, if they could find a station that still had news and service features.

If there’s one problem with the morning show, it’s that there’s too much service!

Between news, sports, traffic, weather and commercials, Diane and I were hardly on for the first few hours. Even when we did appear, it was a disjointed few minutes of banter before… more news, weather, sports and commercials.

There were a few interviews planned. The one I was looking forward to the most was with Senator Joe Lieberman. The New London Sub Base has been slated for closing and there was lots to talk about.

Interviewing newsmakers on real subjects is something I seldom get to do at the TV station. It was a welcome change and I wonder how Senator Lieberman felt, since he mostly knows me as the somewhat hyper, off center, weatherman?

It was really a lot of fun. Television is a much more powerful medium than radio, but on the radio you have the freedom to speak your mind. I tried to be careful and not to be a partisan, but there’s a lot more I can say – and I did.

10:00 AM came much too soon.

I went around and said goodbye and tried to plant the seed that next time, maybe I could fill in on WTIC FM. I was looking for that one more chance to be a ‘jock’ like I was 25 years ago.

Going On The Radio

Every once in a while I appear on a radio show. That’s always enjoyable. My roots, rotted as they are, are in radio.

Monday morning, however, will be different. Monday I’ll be on the radio as a sub as opposed to a guest. I’ll be attempting to do what Ray Dunaway does on WTIC.

Among the guests booked for the show are Senator Joe Lieberman, Attorney Gerry Spence (he’s the homespun guy from Wyoming who wear a suede leather vest all the time) and Barbara Walters (not yet confirmed).

I know I’m a weatherman, but I don’t want to be a pushover to those who are used to answering tough questions and have perfect the dart and weave.

I won’t be alone. I’ll be co-hosting with Ray’s regular co-host, Diane Smith.

I’ve known Diane since I came to Connecticut. Before radio, she was an anchor with us on the TV station. I have referred to her, with reverence, as the Ambassador from Gracious Living and our Ambassador to Fairfield County. Take your pick.

Diane is classy everywhere I’m crude – which is nearly everywhere.

Doing this early morning show; being at the radio station before 6:00 AM is actually better and easier than going somewhere for the midday shift. I know I can be home by 11:00 and catch a nap before my real work begins.

Radio’s in my blood.

Mis-covering An Election

The Iowa Democratic Caucuses have ended and one thing has been established. This year, at this point in the presidential campaign, news organizations are fixated with the horse race aspect.

That’s the wrong way to go. Aren’t the ideas of the candidates what’s most important? It’s not like there’s not a wide spectrum of ideology. Could candidates be farther apart than Dennis Kucinich&#185 and Joe Lieberman, for instance?

We hear about polls and political stumbles because it’s an easier story to cover and it’s dynamic – whereas you’ve got to hope the candidate’s positions are static.

I try to stay well informed and read like crazy, but I have a very tough time ascertaining where everyone stands. If we’re going to elect the right candidate (if that person actually exists) we need to know.

&#185 – In 1973, while at WGAR in Cleveland, I ate dinner sitting next to Dennis Kucinich at a station function. This was before his less than illustrious reign as mayor. We traded small talk, but all I can remember now was thinking how young he was to be a politician.