Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lamont Wins, Lieberman Must Show Wisdom

A lot will be said about the defeat of Joe Lieberman but it might be more important to focus on what a win for Lamont means. A few years ago, Dan Lungren was the Republican nominee for governor in California; Lungren is a reasonably honest man who ran as exactly who he is: a very conservative Republican. The voters had been able to accept Lungren as the state attorney general but when it came to the broad politics involved in being governor, they rejected Lungren and voted for the Democratic candidate. The voters made a choice. It's called democracy.

Unfortunately, the message many Republicans seemed to have taken from Lungren's loss, particularly in California, is that very conservative candidates can't win unless they put together gimmicks that detract from how conservative they are. Wedge issues, fat cat campaign contributors, gerrymandering, election games, smear tactics, etc. are among the gimmicks Republicans have been perfecting of late.

What's been forgotten in recent years is that sometimes voters, not political consultants, take charge for one reason or another. What's also been forgotten is that sometimes a good man can lose because he's fallen behind the times; in Lieberman's case, he may have also taken the voters for granted. Let there be no doubt of a simple fact: the world is changing rapidly and we have a president who is caught in a time warp that goes back decades and is not useful to the country. The voters are restless. Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray of The Washinton Post have the story on the primary and some of their own thoughts:
In a stark repudiation, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) narrowly lost the Democratic Senate primary here Tuesday night, falling to antiwar candidate Ned Lamont in a campaign that became a referendum on the incumbent's support for the Iraq war.

Okay, let's stop a moment. Perhaps the election was a referendum on the Iraq war. I believe that it may be more important to understand that it was a referendum on politics as usual. Also, any time an incumbent loses by three percentage points, it's not a narrow loss. The incumbent always has the advantage. If he loses, something major has happened. Here's more:
The Senate primary was closely watched around the country as a barometer of antiwar sentiment that could shape the November midterm elections, particularly in Democratic-leaning states.

Beyond that, the Lieberman-Lamont contest carried implications for a Democratic Party that long has been split over national security and whose congressional leaders and prospective 2008 presidential candidates have struggled to find consensus on the war.

I happen to be a liberal Democrat who believes in a strong defense but also in strong international relations. I supported the war in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq, however, never made any sense to me. When I realized that Bush lied his way into our war in Iraq, and has repeatedly misled the American people on a variety of issues including Iraq, and when I realized that he was leading an extraordinarily reckless and incompetent administration, it is ridiculous to merely label millions of people like myself as antiwar.

Let's think about this for a moment. Like many people, I supported the war in Afghanistan but I never supported the torture, the renditions, the deliberate attempts to ignore the Geneva Conventions, the placing of Afghanistan on the back burner, the Guantanamo Bay fiasco and a general attempt to use 9/11 as an excuse to damage our democracy (by no means is that an exhaustive list). If we had never gone to Iraq, what would the conventional wisdom in Washington call people like myself? What does it mean when mainstream media ignores people like myself who ask that the law be observed and who can list numerous reasons why it's important to observe those laws? This is about far more than a particular war. It is about the fundamental breakdown of our government and the failure of the so-called 'conventional wisdom' to recognize an obvious fact.

Finally, if the Democrats were split (and they never were all that split), it was simply confusion over how long the war hysteria stirred up by Bush and his right wing friends would continue and how best to handle the situation; note that the Republicans, if anything, are now more fractured than the Democrats. There are a lot of people on the Democratic side who I wish had been braver much sooner, but at the end of the day, as more and more people break with Bush, I am delighted to welcome people into a broad consensus that is clearly developing. We're not all the way there yet but we're getting there.

4 Comments:

Blogger TheSarc said...

New Article: Lieberman loses Democratic primary, decides to run as Republican

6:49 AM  
Blogger Marshall Darts said...

Joe's Still Got It Wrong

Joe Lieberman said he lost yesterday because of the excessive partisanship that has become part of politics. He's wrong. He lost because to an opponent in his own party who ran an issue-oriented, anti-war campaign.

Lieberman's backing of a foolish president with a foolish foreign policy was not bipartisanship. It was foolishishness itself.

The Republicans should take note of what happened to Fox News' favorite Democrat. They know that anti-war sentiment isn't limited to Democratic voters.

Tip O'Neill used to say,"All politics is local." Well, when a young soldier is buried in your state or district as a casualty of this foolish war, that makes Iraq a very local issue.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Marshall Darts said...

Joe's Still Got It Wrong

Joe Lieberman said he lost yesterday because of the excessive partisanship that has become part of politics. He's wrong. He lost because to an opponent in his own party who ran an issue-oriented, anti-war campaign.

Lieberman's backing of a foolish president with a foolish foreign policy was not bipartisanship. It was foolishishness itself.

The Republicans should take note of what happened to Fox News' favorite Democrat. They know that anti-war sentiment isn't limited to Democratic voters.

Tip O'Neill used to say,"All politics is local." Well, when a young soldier is buried in your state or district as a casualty of this foolish war, that makes Iraq a very local issue.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read »

1:16 PM  

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