Thursday, August 03, 2006

About Lieberman

Apparently a majority of the primary voters in Connecticut are blogofascists. I point this out because I don't tremendously care about the Lieberman primary, but I hate to see attempts at democracy being dismissed.

Mike the Mad Biologist catches an aide to anti-environment Congresscritter Richard Pombo saying:
Connecticut should have its statehood taken away from it. The foolishness of its pampered residents should be demonstrated to others by a government program to bulldoze the entire state, salt the land and construct a windfarm to supply NYC with electricity. And its residents should be relocated to Guantanamo Bay where they can take a number behind the 3 who hung themselves this weekend, since they seem so intent on suicide.
And while he seems to have been responding to and anti-drilling editorial, I expect that the failure of Joementum was also on his mind.

Meanwhile, the former Democratic nominee for VP is bringing in Young Republicans to canvass for him. And claiming he's always been a critic of the way the occupation of Iraq has progressed. Except, no one can quite locate that criticism. Atrios reminds us of these hard words, and their instant retractions:
After his AFL-CIO speech, I asked the Senator, "If you believe that winning this war is so crucial, why haven't you been tougher on the Bush Administration's inept prosecution of it?" Lieberman replied, mildly, that he had criticized the Bush Administration in the past. And then he did a curious thing. "I think we may have wasted the first year in Iraq," he offered, then retreated, "Well, that may be a little hard ... Maybe I should say we lost opportunities," and then, noticing that I was about to splutter with indignation, he retracted his retraction. "No, we wasted it." To say the least!
I think the New York Times got it right when they endorsed Lamont and said:

there is a reason that while other Democrats supported the war, [Lieberman] has become the only target. In his effort to appear above the partisan fray, he has become one of the Bush administration’s most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates.
That's the problem, not the war itself. Lieberman's attitude and the way he's used the power he has. This isn't a right/left argument – Lieberman will be glad to tell you how he's voted against the right on key individual issues. But as Mark Schmitt points out in Beyond Checklist Liberalism, that's not what's at issue. While Lieberman can press the individual interest groups' buttons:

it’s not working. Why? Two reasons: One of course is that Iraq, and the constellation of foreign policy and security failures it represents really is huge. And while Democrats can accept a fairly wide range of viewpoints, roughly from Biden’s make-it-work to Murtha’s get-out-now, only Lieberman’s stay-the-course is ridiculous. It’s pretty difficult to look at ANWR and Iraq and conclude that a good position on ANWR more than offsets a bad one on Iraq. (Especially if there’s no reason to think that Ned Lamont has a different position on ANWR or the other three buttons.)

The second reason is that Lamont supporters actually aren’t ideologues. They aren’t looking for the party to be more liberal on traditional dimensions. They’re looking for it to be more of a party. They want to put issues on the table that don’t have an interest group behind them - like Lieberman’s support for the bankruptcy bill -- because they are part of a broader vision. And I think that’s what blows the mind of the traditional Dems.
Lieberman was catapulted to prominence in the national Democratic mind by Al Gore. His influence stretches beyond Connecticut. And he's used that prominence and influence to bash his own party. Not to disagree with policy and work with the party to change minds, but to knock the people he ought to be trying to convince, and ought also to be listening to. He hasn't used whatever good will he's generated across the aisle to accomplish anything. He isn't representing the interests of Connecticut. And if that's the case, he deserves to lose, and Ned Lamont deserves to win.

This is a good thing. It moves past interest group politics toward a politics that's driven by principles, and if those principles support particular interest groups' activities, swell.