Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Some Thoughts on Joe Lieberman

I haven't said much on Joe Lieberman. The Iraq fiasco and the utter breakdown of our foreign policy is the biggest crisis of our time and I've been puzzled by Lieberman's strange position. At the same time, I haven't felt comfortable about some of the shrillness that has been directed at him. I'm not going to defend Lieberman since his behavior continues to be puzzling.

The reality is that there are good people who sometimes stay in politics too long and start losing their way. But what is going on in Washington is far larger than anything liberals or even Democrats can handle on their own. We need allies and nearly every week those allies are crossing the lines. Let's just leave that thought there.

Here's a post by Benjamin Dueholm of The Private Intellectual; I don't know much about him but I read him now and then, maybe once or twice a month. He's thoughtful; I wish he were a little better proofreader but he clearly has useful things to say:
At times I've gotten swept up in the left blogosphere's whirlwind of hostile towards Joe Lieberman. I certainly hope he loses the August 8 primary to Ned Lamont, and in fact I hope he loses by a large enough margin that he (or at least his institutional backers) abandons his promised independent bid in the general election. But as I've read some of the Connecticut press's articles on the race lately, I've seen that this is something I should feel more sorrow than anger about.

I say this not in the spirit of preposterous schoolmarmism that infects much of the Beltway punditry on this issue, from Kondracke to Brooks and so forth. It's not a matter of Joe being the last decent man, the moderate voice, the lamb led to the partisan slaughter. The kindest word for that line is that it's bullshit. No one ever said such things when Arlen Specter was under attack two years ago from his right and no one says it today of Lincoln Chafee, similarly besieged. Bipartisanship and moderation are virtues expected only of Democrats, for reasons I do not pretend to understand. Rather, the problem is that Joe Lieberman actually has a rather distinguished career as a liberal. He entered political life as a civil rights activist at a time when his Republican colleagues were either too apathetic (George Bush) or too cowardly (most of the rest) to have the right opinion on that absolutely critical question.


...these sins would probably have passed were it not for the war in Iraq. The major media voices decry Ned Lamont's candidacy as "single-issue" and the liberal netroots deny the label, but Iraq is what it's all about. Lieberman's other shortcomings are only aggravating factors in an already decisive indictment for his failure to show leadership on the great issue of our day and, worse, to spend more time attacking his own side of the aisle for opposing that war than attacking the president for committing such a colossal blunder.

There are surely circumstances in which it is courageous (another virtue mindlessly ascribed to Lieberman by his admirers) to criticize one's own party. That time is not, however, when one's party is out of power in all three branches of the federal government and the administration, aided and abetted by a quiescent Congress, is perpetrating the greatest foreign policy disaster in decades. In fact, I don't understand why a "single issue" candidacy is such a bad thing when that single issue happens to be a war that is redefining America's role in the world, and the American executive's power domestically, in ways that are far-reaching, extreme, and uniformly terrible. In world historical terms, Iraq, and what it stands for, is the defining issue of our day.

Be sure to read the entire post and consider reading his two previous posts which give a sense of who he is.


Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I don't find anything so strange about Lieberman's position. He's a proud and devout jew who, I'm convinced, doesn't see even the slightest possibility of divergence between Israel's best interest and that of the U.S.

To him and, I think, to many other American jews, Israel is a de facto 51st state and should always be treated accordingly.

Seen in that light, anything that serves to protect Israel is good and necessary. Was Saddam anti-Israel? The answer being yes, there's no question in Lieberman's mind Saddam had to go, whatever the cost and complications. And, if the ensuing occupation has been bungled horribly, that's a shame. Nevertheless, if staying the course will do more to protect Israel than pulling out would, then we must stay the course.

It's all quite simple.

I don't know if Lieberman is this way out of fully conscious or subconscious motivation. I'm not sure it matters, because I don't doubt he loves the U.S. So, it's not a case of divided loyalties, rather one of inability to conceive of such a division being possible, since his concept of what's good for both countries is one and the same thing, always.

3:32 PM  
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1:22 AM  

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