JOMELTDOWN. Maxine Waters, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have rushed to Connecticut to campaign for Ned Lamont. Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus who had initially pledged to support Joe Lieberman have reportedly backed out at the last minute. A newfound black wariness of Lieberman, you say?

Hardly. Whatever black Democratic voters do in Tuesday�s primary, this much is certain: Long before Lamont was in the spotlight, it was national black Democrats who raised their concerned voices about Lieberman. Amid all the hype over the primary race, this fact seems to have been overlooked.

Flashback to the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. When Al Gore announced Lieberman as his veep pick, most Dems swooned. But not folks like Waters. They were asking tough questions about Lieberman�s commitments to civil rights; his dressing-down of Toni Morrison�s black president, Bill Clinton; and worrying aloud about Lieberman�s business-friendly profile. At the time, David Bositis, director of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

�Lieberman's speech calling Clinton's actions immoral in the Monica Lewinsky scandal was widely praised. Indeed, after Lieberman was selected, this factor was cited favorably, and seen as helping Al Gore distance himself from the president. Here's a news flash for you: Black Americans want to celebrate Clinton. They don't care about his personal life. During his administration, African-Americans have prospered as never before. Incomes have risen faster than those of whites. Affirmative action has been protected�He is the first president to fully embrace black America.�

If Joementum becomes Joemeltdown next week week, plenty of credit for exposing Lieberman will rightly go to Tom Swan, the campaign manager who recruited Lamont; Tim Tagaris, who helped build Lamont�s online following; and Bill Hillsman, who made the Lamont campaign�s inventive ads. With all due respect to that trio, and others on the ground in Connecticut and in the blogosphere, it was black Democrats who deserve credit for warning about Lieberman early on.

--Tom Schaller