Article in Roll Call
Lieberman, one of the last “liberal hawks” in the Democratic Party and a leader in efforts to find bipartisan solutions to America’s problems, is being targeted for defeat by an emergent new left that’s using savage, Internet-based attacks to push moderation out of politics.
If former Greenwich Selectman Ned Lamont beats Lieberman in the Democratic primary, it will represent a signal victory...for vicious name-calling as a political tactic...Lieberman is a target primarily because he supports the Iraq war, but also because he rejects Bush-hatred and often cooperates with Republicans, even though he votes with his party 80 percent of the time...
To his credit, Lamont himself is not stooping as low as his supporters are, though he is distorting Lieberman’s record on the environment, energy and Social Security...
Lieberman is a rare remaining vestige of the assertive Democratic foreign policy typified by Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy. Though he’s accused of being Bush’s cheerleader on Iraq, Lieberman first called for toppling Saddam Hussein in 1993, before Bush was even governor of Texas.
Lieberman surely is out of his party’s force-averse post-Vietnam mainstream on foreign policy. But the party desperately needs his voice, and American politics also needs his willingness to cooperate with his political adversaries and to act independently.
“Hatred divides the country and blinds us to the fact that we are all in this together, particularly when it comes to national security,” Lieberman said. “You can have disagreement, but once you think the other side is evil — and there is a group in each party that thinks the other side is evil — we have a problem. The hatred of Bush among some Democrats mirrors the hatred of Bill Clinton among some Republicans in the 1990s. It’s destructive.”
And it’s now up to Connecticut voters to decide whether hatred-politics will prevail.
Kondracke is a well-known critic of the more intractable liberal elements of the Democratic Party, but he is certainly no conservative - the man had the honor of being on Richard Nixon's "Enemies List" along with Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale, and Paul Newman.
It does bring up a pretty good point about the way this race will be perceived nationally. In the sheltered world of the blogosphere, it often seems as if a liberal groundswell is underway across the country. But the truth is that the blogosphere is about reinforcing the opinions that people already have, not about changing people's minds. The extremes on both sides dump on anyone who disagrees with them on a key issue, throwing red meat to keep their readers happy, but also making the moderates on both sides feel increasingly resentful.They use the self-reinforcing posts on DailyKos as evidence of this supposed liberal groundswell, implicitly dismissing those who don't hold their views as part of a Washington insider, special interest-powered enclave - despite the fact that probably 75% of the country doesn't hold their views. They often use the term "people power" to describe their movement, and even to criticize the possibility of a independent bid by Lieberman - despite the fact that probably ten times as many voters (who are indeed people) will show up in November than will show up for the Democratic primary. In this context, the only "people power" that matters is the power of people who agree with them.
Kondracke is right on one major point - the Democrats are in a lot of trouble if what happens to Lieberman starts happening to other moderate Democrats. Liberals may well be on the ascendant, but they can't truly help the Democrats take back Washington unless they learn to ally themselves with moderates in the party, or at least learn to not hurl insults at them.
And yes, that even applies to Democrats who break with and criticize other Democrats on some key issues, because a party that refuses to tolerate dissent within its ranks risks exile to the political wilderness.
Note: At some point in the next day, I'll be doing a post which is critical of the Lieberman campaign. Try not to look too shocked!