Tuesday, August 08, 2006


OK, so he's out of the race (at least as a Democrat). Now what?

"The Senate needs collegial moderates who work across party lines. It's the only way to stop the really bad stuff. And the revival of the romance of the antiwar left is a potential disaster for the Democrats. That's what gave the world Richard Nixon in 1968, when ideologically pure liberals who had backed Eugene McCarthy in the primaries refused to rally around Hubert Humphrey because Humphrey was 'complicit' in the Vietnam War machine."
-- Jonathan Alter in Newsweek

Alter's sentiments are both right and wrong. Yes, bipartisan moderates are desperately needed; they might be the only people in politics who ever really get things done. And granted, the hardcore left is again in danger of jinxing what should be a slam dunk. The "Clean for Gene" crowd ended up with a PC and a domain name, and they're loving the Democratic Party so much, it's starting to resemble autoerotic asphyxiation.

But let me get this straight: Collegial moderates are needed because "it's the only way to stop the really bad stuff?" Are you f-ing kidding me? If a war based on wrong information and apparently without end doesn't count as "really bad stuff," then my heart goes out to the nightmare world of Jonathan Alter. Buck up, little buddy.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger Dr. Pants said...

OK, I'll agree that we need political moderates and people who can make deals in order to get shit done, but can we stop the sainting of Joe Lieberman already?

Yes, Lamont is against the war. So is most of the country. Are we supposed to ignore the will of the people just so we can choose politicians that are SLIGHTLY LESS evil than the people in power?

Ned Lamont won the primary. God willing, he'll win in November, too. If Joe-mentum couldn't win his party's primary, maybe that should be a clue that he's not what the party needs right now.

Hell, if people really wanted someone who is physically compatible with Bush, why not change the laws so Angela Merkel?

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

I can't say it any better than the New York Times opinion page did:

"Mr. Lieberman’s supporters have tried to depict Mr. Lamont and his backers as wild-eyed radicals who want to punish the senator for working with Republicans and to force the Democratic Party into a disastrous turn toward extremism. It’s hard to imagine Connecticut, which likes to be called the Land of Steady Habits, as an encampment of left-wing isolationists, and it’s hard to imagine Mr. Lamont, who worked happily with the Republicans in Greenwich politics, leading that kind of revolution.

The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.

Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person’s right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.

When Mr. Lieberman told The Washington Post, “I haven’t changed. Events around me have changed,” he actually put his finger on his political problem. His constituents felt that when the White House led the country into a disastrous international crisis and started subverting the nation’s basic traditions, Joe Lieberman should have changed enough to take a lead in fighting back."

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Token Liberal said...

Alter's song was sung in 2000 and again in 2004, where progressive-minded Americans were advised to take not the high road or the low road, but the middle of the road.

As Mr. Miyagi says ... go down middle of road ... SQUASH like bug.

At some point voting on your convictions, rather than a political strategy, will come back into vogue and the country will be better for the change.

Read Rob Taibbi's piece on Lieberman in the current Rolling Stone.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Actually, Cassandra, I think the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said it a lot better than the NY Times. Here's the Arkansas newspaper's editorial from Thursday, August 10:

"NOW IS the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Democratic Party. Because if Tuesday’s election returns in Connecticut are any indication, it’s taking a well-traveled road—right over a cliff. Think about it: The Dems now have lost two successive presidential elections, they’ve been unable to break the GOP’s hold on both houses of Congress that dates back to the watershed congressional elections of 1994, but now they’ve managed to defeat... Joe Lieberman. And even Lonesome Joe, though down and lonesomer, may not be out, since he plans to come back as an “independent Democratic” candidate in November, when he hopes all those blue-collar Democrats in his state, aka Reagan Democrats, will help him overcome his opponent’s millions and blogs.

But even if he wins, the Democratic Party will have lost its last honest-to-goodness Harry Truman / John F. Kennedy / Scoop Jackson figure. Which would be a pity and a bad sign for the future. Because when the party loses touch with that peace-through-strength strain of its history, it loses touch with a lot of voters.

While other leading Democrats are busy triangulating when it comes to this increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, Lonesomer Joe is sticking with his convictions. Namely, his belief that the West is now engaged in another worldwide struggle against an implacable, fanatical foe — a contest it had better win, whether the shifting battlefield is in Iraq, on the Israeli-Lebanese border, Ground Zero in Manhattan, or wherever suicide bombers strike.

Yes, it is a disparate enemy we face, but so was the peculiar axis of German Nazis, Italian fascists and Japanese imperialists. But they were united in their hatred of freedom. Just as the mullahs and their accessories are today. Even if their enablers in the Western world seem unable to recognize as much. Talk about retro, it’s hard to read the news today without feeling intimations of the 1930 s.

Joe Lieberman now has paid the price for following his conscience instead of the public opinion polls. He didn’t have to. He could have softened his support for this war, taken refuge in slippery clinton clauses, and remained a Democrat in good standing. But as he said in his combination concession speech and campaign opener No. 2, that’s not who he is.

Whatever now happens to Senator Lieberman’s political career isn’t nearly as important as what is happening to his party, which is fast being converted into a subsidiary of MoveOn. org.

Sound familiar? It does to Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, which is scarcely a Republican publication. Ned Lamont, now the official Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate in Connecticut, reminds Editor Peretz of the fatal charm George McGovern exerted over his party back in 1972, when another divisive war was raging in Vietnam. Running against a president even his supporters may have had their doubts about, Senator McGovern managed to lose every state but one and the District of Columbia that year. Is political history about to repeat itself ? To quote Mr. Peretz:

“The Lamont if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont. As I say, we have been here before. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove’s dream come true. If he, and others of his stripe, carry the day, the Democratic Party will lose the future, and deservedly.”

WELL, WE’LL SEE. There are no sure things in politics. But it’s clear to some of us that Lamontism is just McGovernism redux. Call it the New Isolationism. It might even be successful this time out. But we can’t think of a better way to enhance Republican chances in 2008 than to remodel the Democratic Party in the image of George McGovern. (Think how well a McCain-Giuliani ticket might do against a Ned Lamont type atop the Democratic ticket. ) Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Because what’s bad for the Democratic Party has a way of being bad for the country. When one of the two parties in a two-party system gets taken over by its True Believers, the balance the system is supposed to provide is threatened. Which is why now is the time for all good men—and women—to come to the aid of the party.

—————Happily, there was also some good news for the Democrats in Tuesday’s election returns: Cynthia McKinney, the strange Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, lost her primary. Her great accomplishment in office this term was avoiding indictment after getting into a scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer, just as her great contribution to the national dialogue has been her conspiracy theory about the Bush administration’s somehow being in on the September 11 th attacks. McKinneyism is even worse than McGovernism. At least for the next two years, we’ll be spared her loony presence in Congress. Now there’s a prospect to cheer Democrats and Republicans alike."



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