David Broder Is Distraught

Democratic Party

Yesterday I linked to a Digby post, which said,

Let’s be clear about this: if we lose this fall, it will not be because the “war colored glasses” crowd was immature and failed to behave properly at the debutante ball. It will be because the Democratic establishment blew off its own voters in order to please David Broder and the stale DC punditocrisy — the same thing they have been doing for more than a decade and losing.

Today David Broder himself provides the perfect follow up. Those untidy antiwar activists in Connecticut are messing with poor Joe Lieberman’s re-election bid, he says, and ain’t it just awful?

Senator Lieberman waxes nostalgic for those more civilized times when candidates for office were chosen behind closed doors by gentlemen

In an interview, Lieberman sounded a note of nostalgia for the old days. “John Bailey genuinely believed that primaries were not only divisive but often didn’t pass the ultimate test of finding the candidate who could win,” he said. If Bailey were alive, his attitude would be, “We have an incumbent senator who is quite popular in the state; we have an opportunity to elect three Democratic congressional challengers; we have a very tough race for governor. Why would we want to challenge an incumbent senator who could lead the other candidates to victory?”

Um, because his record sucks?

The answer is simple: the war, which has lost support among Connecticut voters, especially those likely to vote in a Democratic primary in the heart of summer-vacation season.

Except that isn’t the simple answer. It isn’t just the war.

[February 27, 2006]Just this past year, Lieberman voted to confirm John Roberts, and he voted against the filibuster of Samuel Alito LAW ‘75. He also voted for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who, as White House Counsel, called the Geneva Conventions “quaint” and was responsible for the legal justifications for torture at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons. Lieberman’s strong ties to industry left him standing alone as a Democrat willing to work on Bush’s ultimately failed privatization of Social Security. And just this week, he refused to join an overwhelming majority of lawmakers from both parties in opposing the Bush administration’s sale of administrative contracts for 21 ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. Lieberman supported federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case, voted to stop federal aid to public schools that used materials “supportive of homosexuality” and, in 2002, he presided over the confirmation hearings for Michael Brown, the supremely unqualified nominee for FEMA chief whom Lieberman wholeheartedly supported.

It can’t get much worse than that, can it? Oh, it can. Perhaps Lieberman’s most galling characteristic is his willingness to appear in conservative media and to publicly and unreservedly bash Democratic policies and other Democrats. As a Democrat with a bullhorn, Lieberman can and does do more harm to the Democratic message machine than any Republican. It is no surprise then that his approval rating is 15 points higher among Republicans than among Democrats or that he has fundraising parties hosted by Republican lobbyists. He carries water for the GOP and reinforces GOP frames. Consider the case of Rep. John Murtha, a retired colonel. After many talks with commanders on the ground and other Pentagon experts, Murtha — an elder statesman of the House Democratic Caucus and a respected voice on security issues — called for a measured withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In response, Sen. Lieberman cried, “In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” Murtha retorted, “What credibility?” It’s bad enough for someone like Karl Rove to routinely impugn the motives of Democrats; it is quite another for our own Democratic senator to do so.

More from the Broder column — you’ll like this —

“I think we did the right thing in overthrowing Saddam, and I think we are safer as a result,” he continued. “Second, while I have been very critical of the Bush foreign policy before the war and the Rumsfeld-Bush policies in Iraq after Saddam was overthrown, I also made a judgment I would not invoke partisan politics on this war.”

No, he’ll stand by shufflin’ and grinnin’ while the Republicans invoke partisan politics on this war.

“My opponent says it [Lieberman’s support for the war] broke Democratic unity,” Lieberman said. “Well, dammit, I wasn’t thinking about Democratic unity. It was a moment to put the national interest above partisan interest.”

If “national interest” means shredding our political heritage and institutions in favor of jack boots and a perpetual state of war, he has a point.

“I know I’m taking a position that is not popular within the party,” Lieberman said, “but that is a challenge for the party — whether it will accept diversity of opinion or is on a kind of crusade or jihad of its own to have everybody toe the line. No successful political party has ever done that.”

Got that? If you’re opposed to Lieberman, you’re a jihadist.

Broder says that Lieberman is considering running as an independent. “A former Democratic vice presidential candidate, a three-term senator, a former state Senate majority leader and state attorney general forced to run as an independent,” Broder says. How distressing.

Update: See also Glenn Greenwald:

One of the most absurd arguments currently being circulated is that there is something misguided or even unethical about supporting a primary challenge to Lieberman. These complaints often include the supremely ironic accusation there is even something anti-democratic about the primary challenge, because it somehow signifies that diversity of opinion is prohibited and dissent punished. But as Roger Ailes points out: “Seems to me that having a pro-war candidate and an anti-war candidate running against each other within a party is about accepting diversity of opinion.”

It would be incredibly irresponsible for the Democrats not to have an all-out debate about whether they want to be represented in the Senate by someone whose foreign policy views are more or less identical to the most militaristic ideologues in the administration. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the primary challenge against Lieberman is motivated almost exclusively by his support for the Iraq war (an obviously false claim given that numerous Democrats who supported the war are still supported by most Democrats), Lieberman’s neoconservative world-view is squarely at odds with the views of most Democrats (and most Americans), and that, among other things, is what is at issue in his primary challenge.

It is highly revealing that those who view the Connecticut primary challenge as being some sort of anti-democratic affront — such as those geniuses at The New Republic for whom the only more important goal than Middle Eastern wars is Lieberman’s re-election — do not attack the specific views of Ned Lamont, but instead attack the existence of the democratic contest itself. As was true with their advocacy of the invasion of Iraq, neoconservatives don’t want to win a debate over whether further war-mongering, this time in Iran, makes sense. They once again want to squelch meaningful debate entirely, even if it means advancing that blatantly inane claim that a primary challenge to a highly controversial Senator with extremist foreign policy views is inappropriate and even anti-democratic.

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  1. joanr16  •  Jun 18, 2006 @10:41 am

    Oh, how I envy Connecticut Democrats and the actual choice they have in their primary! In Nebraska, we had one name on the ballot for U.S. Senate– Ben Nelson. I left that oval blank. Come November, however, I’m forced to vote for Nelson if I want to keep the seat counted as Democratic, and foil Nelson’s opponent– a creepy business droid named Pete Ricketts, who looks and talks like a Nazi skinhead.

  2. ken melvin  •  Jun 18, 2006 @10:59 am

    David Broder worked to get Bush elected and reelected. David Broder isn’t distraught, he’s disgusting.

  3. Britwit  •  Jun 18, 2006 @11:29 am

    Broder is singing to his piper.

    Liberman-is a lizard. I can’t stand to look at the guy. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, he is like the John McCain of the Democrat Party only worse.

    Let’s hope that the people in Connecticut are smart enough to boot his sorry ass out!

  4. justme  •  Jun 18, 2006 @2:19 pm

    Liebermans stand on the war has never suprised me.Isreal has long wanted saddam overthrown and as long as Isreal approved of it, so goes Joe.

    I feared this about him when he wanted to be veep.I just don’t think Isreal has a right to a voice in America’s policy choices and I was right to think lieberman would be their lap dog….

    IMHO, it is not king george lieberman has assumed the position for, it is Isreal… from my view, lieberman sold out America long ago and has long since been representing Isreal…What better way to win the love of your people then supporting the death of arabs,, any arabs?

    He has gotta go…period….he is not serving us…so buh-bye now… surely even a slow person like david should be able to grasp that… but if david likes Joe so much he can hire Joe himself , as joe will be looking for a job after Nov.Maybe bush will hire him to earn his own points with Isreal. Too bad our politicians don’t spend as much time kissing our ass as they do kissing Isreals….

  5. emel  •  Jun 18, 2006 @2:57 pm

    Lieberman is crap- but I truly lost it when he dared to say last December that we should not criticize Bush since it hurt the president’s credibility. If he is to uphold the constitution as he vows he would never tell us to shut up so as to let any president off the hook as to taking responsibilty for his own decisions. Bush’s credibilty was Bush’s own to lose and to blame all of us for it was too much.
    And that doesn’t begin to cover what I think should be done to him for his support of the war and reproductive nazisim-

  6. Avedon  •  Jun 18, 2006 @6:50 pm

    Broder says that Lieberman is considering running as an independent. “A former Democratic vice presidential candidate, a three-term senator, a former state Senate majority leader and state attorney general forced to run as an independent,” Broder says. How distressing.

    No one’s forcing Lieberman to run as an independent. Now, why wasn’t Broder distressed when Lieberman joined forces with the Republicans to squeeze Lowell Weicker out of his seat. Y’know, what with him being a popular, experienced legislator and all?

  7. A Canadian reader  •  Jun 18, 2006 @9:23 pm


    From all that I’ve heard about Lieberman, he’s nothing more than a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. I would be the first to vote against him, given the chance. However, I still object to your thinly veiled “fifth column” accusations against him. And for pity’s sake: though I know you hate the country, would you please spell its name correctly? It’s ISRAEL, not Isreal.

  8. justme  •  Jun 19, 2006 @1:53 pm

    Sorry for my spelling typo… and now it is your turn to say sorry, for you KNOW nothing if you believe I hate Israel,,, if you would read what I wrote is said NOTHING against the country….not one thing… I simply said that Israel should have no part in our government or our policy,, anymore then their government should be run by US….got it?

    Hate is not something I entertain…I will leave that to the right.And be very very careful here because my in- laws are German Jews so your treading on thin ice.And as for you objecting…. I noticed you offered NOTHING to counter my point.Joe is a sell out to ISRAEL period.Object all you want, joe has made my point over and over,,, perhaps you should look at his record and object to him instead of me.

    Please think twice before you accuse people you don’t even know of “hate”…..it makes my spelling errors look minor compared to such a foolish knee jerk statement….I hate peas, liver and snow… Now you know everything I hate so you won’t make the mistake again.

  9. skip  •  Jun 24, 2006 @1:17 pm

    From reading the New York Times one would assume Israel of of the size and importance of China. Yet when the French diplomat said Israel was a “shitty little country” he was at least half right.
    Certainly it is not worth the all the attention it gets from the US, and not worth screwing up all our foreign policy.
    But more than that, recent Israeli regimes have done us no favors. Lieberman and the famous lobby are with their rights doing what they do, but we don’t have to like it.

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