Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lieberman's Valley of Shadow

The downside to the Lamont Lieberman primary battle is that it gives Republicans an obvious and somewhat compelling narrative with which to underline the moral turpitude of the Democrats. Lieberman is being punished for not agreeing with liberal orthodoxy, and it shows how narrow minded the liberal wing of the Democratic party is that they can't work with a moderate like Lieberman.

This is the narrative foisted on us by Paul Weyrich in his latest article. After noting that Lieberman is religious, which we liberals are supposed to be opposed to, he underlines the other problem liberals have with Lieberman.
Lieberman has accused Lamont of running a single-issue campaign-namely, the war. But in a sense, by dissenting vigorously from what has become the Democratic Party's orthodoxy-namely, opposition to the war--Lieberman has invited a single-issue campaign against him. Lamont is saying, in so many words, if you are against the war, now is the chance to make a stand, through me, and I will not disappoint you. Lieberman, for his part, has not backed down one bit. He believes, contrary to news reports, things are getting better in Iraq and it would be a mistake for the United States to abandon the Iraqi people now.

What happens in Connecticut will have profound implications nationwide. If Lamont won the primary it would be a signal to Democrats everywhere to oppose the war, regardless of their personal feelings. If Lieberman won the primary it would be a signal that there is still room for dissenters from liberal orthodoxy inside the Democratic Party. Should Lieberman run and win as an independent it would shake the Democratic Party to the core.
I would imagine that if Lieberman decides to run as an independent (which is his right) he would get a lot of money from Republican money men. And they would be dollars well spent. Lieberman/Lamont two would, of necessity, involve Lieberman attacking his own party for supporting the candidate who won the primary. It would feed this Republican narrative that the Liberals can't tolerate their moderates. Lieberman might very well get the Zell Miller special, lionized for his willingness to attack his own party.

Now it might be useful to remember for a moment how Republicans treated one of their own who was a moderate and went against the party line - i.e. John McCain. They accused him of having an illegitimate child and of being mentally ill.

The turn about is that they want Lieberman to be protected in his fight for ideals and plans the majority of his party doesn't agree with. And no elected official gets that protection. If the Democratic voters of Connecticut decide that Lamont can better represent their party and their state, well, that's their call. And at that point we will see what Lieberman is really all about.

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