Saturday, August 05, 2006

Signing off

When I started this blog almost exactly one month ago, my primary purpose was simple: Refute and rebut some of the distortions and myths that were being spread about Lieberman's record in the progressive blogosphere. Anyone reading my posts can hopefully see that that has been the thrust of my posts. I have almost never addressed Ned Lamont's candidacy, much less laid out a case as to why Lieberman would be better than Lamont.

The underlying motivations for my chosen blogging path may help explain the reasons why. First, my primary reason for starting this blog was practical, not ideological. The readers of this blog may be surprised to know that the only candidate I have ever worked or even volunteered for was Howard Dean back in 2003. I chose to start this blog not because I strongly agree with Lieberman on the issues, but rather because I believe that this race is a distraction from Democratic efforts to retake seats from real GOP control, and that the sooner it ends, the better off the Democratic party and the progressive movement will be. Given Lieberman's intention to run as an independent candidate (which I strongly disagree with), a Lieberman victory in the Democratic primary was the only way to ensure that the distraction did not continue until November (until now - I'll get to that).

Second, I love a good debate and generally like to ensure that both sides of the story are told. Call it the urge to the influence of being in speech and debate club, or simply the mindset of a future attorney, but I rarely miss an opportunity to mix it up in a political debate. Generally, the most visible result of this mindset was me annoying my family members at Thanksgiving dinner. With the blog, I just played Devil's Advocate on a slightly bigger stage.

Finally, I hated the way in which the debate was being framed. I can't stand to see only part of the story get told, and loathed the way in which Lieberman's record was being distorted. I actually agree with most of the primary grievances being leveled against Lieberman. He does seem to have a Panglossian view of the situation in Iraq. It does seem as if he took the support of his constituents for granted. His desire to seek common ground and find bipartisanship seems woefully naive in the current D.C. environment (although I will add that I wish that were not the case). But the methods employed by some of Lamont's supporters in making their case against Lieberman were often marked by brazen intellectual dishonesty - taking quotes out of context, focusing on one vote while ignoring 200 others, and pounding on exceptions as if they were the rule.

Any objective assessment of Lieberman's voting record and political positions shows him to be a moderate progressive. But just being progressive is not, by itself, sufficient to justify re-election.

I was always planning to end this blog once primary day arrived (and have so told a few bloggers and the journalists who have asked me), regardless of who won the primary. A Lieberman victory would effectively ensure his re-election, and focusing on the race after a Lamont victory would only serve to take more attention away from races where Democrats could actually add to their potential majority. Either way, I would have no further reason for continuing the blog after the primary. Beyond that, I'm starting law school in a few weeks, and would have little time for blogging after that anyway.

I was originally going to say all that on primary night, but events of the past few days at first disillusioned me, and then made me decide to speed up the clock on my announcement. Anyone who has read the blog over the past two days could no doubt detect my growing despondency. The last straw hit today, and I decided to get this over with now.

It has become painfully clear to me that little good (and plenty bad) will come out of this race for Democrats, regardless of whether Lamont or Lieberman is the last man standing. That's why I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. Until today, the only way to make sure this intraparty slugfest ended August 8 was for Lieberman to win the primary. But today, Frank Lautenberg hinted that there might be an alternative - he said Joe Lieberman might forgo his independent bid if Ned Lamont wins the primary by a double-digit margin.

I don't much care anymore whether Lamont or Lieberman wins this Senate seat. The only outcome that gives me pause at this point is Lamont winning by a narrow enough margin that Lieberman decides stays in the race. The two ways to end this race on Tuesday are through a Lieberman victory or a Lamont rout. I could live with either option, but if you asked me now, I'd probably tell you that I would prefer the latter.

Lamont seems like a progressive and a good man. If he is a man of his word, and there is no indication that he is not, then he will be at least as progressive as Lieberman on most issues, and more progressive on the rest. Like Lieberman, he advocates progressive policies on the issues most important to me (education, the environment, stem cell research, and gay rights), and his personal wealth actually appeals to me, since it ensures that he won't need to rely on the money of others to get re-elected. I won't condemn him simply because I disagree with the tactics of some of his supporters, particularly since I could now say the same thing of Lieberman. No less importantly, recent polls seem to indicate that a double-digit victory for Lamont is more likely at this point than even a narrow Lieberman win, meaning that a Lamont rout now seems the most likely way to end this race quickly.

Thus ends LieberDem the blogger. I have not yet decided what to do with LieberDem the blog, but I will mull it over between now and Wednesday. I would not necessarily be averse to turning it over to a thoughtful Lieberman supporter who wishes to make further arguments in favor of him. I still believe that progressives can vote for Lieberman in good conscience, and I also believe that it's always best for both sides of the story to at least be told. I simply no longer wish to be the one telling it for Lieberman.

As for me, I plan to help start a blog in the next couple weeks which will focus on progressive causes and candidates elsewhere in the nation. The blogger known as Sundog, a Lamont supporter who often comments here and elsewhere, will be one of the founding contributors. I will likely only be an occasional contributor (providing analysis rather than advocacy) as I begin law school and plan ahead to my real career, which will have nothing to do with either politics or blogging.

If you believe I'm being disingenuous about some part (or all) of this, I can't say that I would blame you. The timing and suddenness of it obviously invites speculation, although I hardly think this blog is significant enough to warrant conspiracy theories. However - and I'm sorry if this sounds dismissive - at this point, I'm tired of stressing about other people's opinions on this race, and that is perhaps the biggest reason I'm not waiting for the primary to post this (also the reason I've disabled comments on this blog). If you truly are curious about the reasons behind the why and when of my decision, email me and I would be happy to explain.

Besides that, I wish both candidates and their respective camps best of luck with their campaigns, and I hope that we all can start fighting together again come Wednesday morning.

- Matt

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home