Yesterday I linked to a Digby post, which said,
Letâ€™s be clear about this: if we lose this fall, it will not be because the â€œwar colored glassesâ€ 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 â€” 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 â€˜75. He also voted for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who, as White House Counsel, called the Geneva Conventions â€œquaintâ€ and was responsible for the legal justifications for torture at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons. Liebermanâ€™s strong ties to industry left him standing alone as a Democrat willing to work on Bushâ€™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 administrationâ€™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 â€œsupportive of homosexualityâ€ and, in 2002, he presided over the confirmation hearings for Michael Brown, the supremely unqualified nominee for FEMA chief whom Lieberman wholeheartedly supported.
It canâ€™t get much worse than that, can it? Oh, it can. Perhaps Liebermanâ€™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 â€” an elder statesman of the House Democratic Caucus and a respected voice on security issues â€” called for a measured withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In response, Sen. Lieberman cried, â€œIn matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nationâ€™s peril.â€ Murtha retorted, â€œWhat credibility?â€ Itâ€™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.