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

Friday, August 04, 2006

If you need a good laugh...

...just look at this for awhile:

Definitely among the most clever satirical websites I've seen.

What a week...

So at a campaign stop for a CT-Sen candidate yesterday, a group of people supporting the rival candidates aggressively confronted the candidate, loudly asking him leading questions in the presence of the cameras and the other voters at the venue.

Sound familiar? Well, it should. Except this time, Ned Lamont was on the receiving end of the verbal barrage rather than Joe Lieberman.

There are a couple of universal (i.e. applying equally to both sides) observations to be made about this. First off, the First Amendment obviously gives supporters on both sides the right to verbally confront the rival candidate while he's campaigning. Unless they cross the line into harrassment or physical assault, it's legal and - in some ways - healthy for democracy.

But at the same time, it's also pretty damned silly, and is certainly an unwarranted distraction. The purpose of such confrontations is to embarrass the rival candidate or keep him from being able to speak his mind, and is most definitely not to ask the candidate insightful questions on the important issues. It's a grab for attention and an attempt to disrupt.

But the thing that struck me most about all this was the response of the anti-Lieberman camp to this. When Lamont supporters verbally confronted Lieberman, it was called a healthy display of the voters' anger. When the Lieberman campaign did it, they called it "thuggery," "Rovian," and accused the Lieberman supporters of trying to incite violence. They say Lieberman ran away and attempted to hide from the voters, while Lamont "escaped" the "hooligans."

They say one reporter caught an elbow and got a bloody nose, but does anyone here really think that the mainstream media wouldn't pick up on the story if Lieberman supporters got physically violent at a campaign event? Reporters were obviously at the event; if the Lieberman supporters had gotten physically violent, you can bet your life that they would all be rushing to produce a story on it - or at the very least, the reporter who got a bloody nose would make sure a story was printed on it.

I've checked Yahoo News, Google News, the National Journal's Hotline Blog (which picks up on everything), and no one is talking about this encounter outside of the anti-Lieberman blogs. There was one amusing article on the encounter in a small neighborhood paper called the Record-Journal which carried an amusingly tabloid-esque headline and was decidedly sympathetic to Lamont, but even that did not seem to mention anything about the Lieberman supporters engaging in physical violence. The progressive blogosphere's echo chamber is the only place where this can still be heard, and the story appears to have fizzled out even there. I suspect an objective account of what happened will never be printed.

All that being said, I repeat that the use of these "disrupt and harass" tactics by both sides is, shall we say, unproductive. I'm sick of this whole campaign at this point. There's obviously no hope that there will be a substantive discussion of the issues between now and Tuesday. The only two things we've learned from the past few days are that the Lamont camp can dish it out a lot better than they can take it, and that BOTH camps are thin-skinned. This campaign has devolved into fratricide, and regardless of the outcome, it will be a blessing to the Democratic party when it ends.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday Round-Up

Say what you will, but the nastiness of the last few days made me somewhat disillusioned with the entire CT Senate race. And since I still have more furniture to put together (I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA), I'll make this quick:

Excellent article on the blogosphere, partisanship, and ideology over at The American Prospect:

The netroots could be right that full-throated liberalism is compatible with Democratic electoral success. There may be no reason to worry that Feingold blew away the competition in the latest Daily Kos presidential straw poll. But netroots members should care about whether they are right or not, and make the case that they are, rather than demonize moderate elements of the party that are very bit as dedicated to building a Democratic majority as they are. If netroots activists’ assumptions about electoral viability are wrong, then despite their intentions, they are working against their stated goal. As members of the reality-based community, we all ought to be willing to step back and question our biases. Whether for the sake of the Democratic Party or for the sake of progressivism, we must.
If there's one point that I actually want to get across by Tuesday night, it is that we are all on the same side. I'll be making that point more often and more emphatically in the coming days. But at least until this race ends, I'd bet real money that few of the big-time bloggers are going to listen.

In other news, The Plank argues that Hamsher and Lamont aren't as independent as they would each like the world to believe, there's an amusingly insightful take on the race at the Thought Theater, Sundog examines Hamsher's almost/somewhat/'well, they started it' apology and also fires off a nice quip against Marshall Wittman, and a new Qunnipiac poll shows Lieberman trailing Lamont by double digits.

Anyone who doesn't think Lamont is the favorite in the primary at this point is kidding themselves, and I can't say I'm surprised given the way the Lieberman campaign has been run for the most part, and considering the prominence of the Iraq War in this race (check out the % of Lamont voters saying it's the main factor in their voting decision). I just hope there's no more friendly fire damage between now and Tuesday, but I know that's some very wishful thinking.

Kudos to Sundog and Peking Duck, who are (near as I can tell) the only blogs so far to denounce both the flyer and the blackface. I'll update and add to that list if people see more.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I just gotta ask the question...

How stupid do both the Lieberman and Lamont camps think black voters are?

First, Lieberman's campaign released a ridiculous flyer implying that Lamont's country club membership makes him racist (sorry Dan, but I don't buy it). Lamont volunteered in urban schools which serve low-income minority students, so clearly the man was socially and racially conscious before this race began.

And then Jane Hamsher, not technically on the Lamont payroll but certainly one of Lamont's cheerleaders-in-chief, manages to see the flyer (and raise it through the roof) by posting a picture of Lieberman with blackface. It was deleted from the Huffington Post website where it was originally posted, leaving the right wingnut blogs to carry it. The progressive blogosphere's silence on it is deafening. There's something very, very wrong when it's the progressives who are silent about someone posting a JPG of the most racist thing someone could do with Photoshop, giving conservatives an opening to posture about tolerance.

It all really begs the question - do the Lieberman and Lamont camps really think that the IQ of black voters is so low that they will actually respond positively to these things? What the hell are they thinking?

Someone needs to realize that the attacks from both camps are only going to hurt the Democratic party and its image to voters - not just in CT, but across the country. Someone in this race needs to come clean and call a timeout on all this. But something tells me that neither side will.

Update: Fleshed out the first full paragraph and changed "campaigns" in the first sentence to "camps" to further clarify that the Hamsher blackface picture was not authorized by the Lamont campaign. To his great credit, I hear Lamont's campaign manager asked Hamsher to take down the photo.

I finally have the a/c working in my new apartment, so I'm moving in tonight. Unfortunately, it doesn't have internet access yet, and won't until I can find a month-to-month service that won't bankrupt me (shoot me an email if you know of one), so I won't be doing evening updates for a couple days. Hope everyone has a pleasant evening, and if you're on the East Coast - stay cool.

104 degrees...

That's what The Weather Channel says will be the high in Philly today. I'm seriously hesitant to step outside for lunch.

If you haven't yet, go to:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Donkey post, Iraq, and education

Good post today over at the New Donkey blog. It combines some reasoned criticisms of Lieberman with refutations of the hyperbolic statements that are so frequently made about him. The post is lengthy, but well worth the read. Here are the last couple paragraphs, which I particularly liked:
I frankly do not agree with either side of the Lieberman-Lamont fight in their contention that this is some sort of Democratic Gotterdammarung that will perpetually resolve every intraparty dispute. Much as I stubbornly admire Joe Lieberman, it's clear he is a clumsy politician who lives in the pre-Karl-Rove atmosphere that permitted genuine bipartisanship. The Clinton New Democrat tradition in the party would survive his defeat.

But I also think the savaging of Lieberman as "vicious and reactionary" is a terrible sign of the defection of many progressives from reality-based politics. And to respond specifically to Matt Stoller's questions, the idea that Joe is the epitome of the "Democratic establishment" is a krazy-kat reflection of the false belief that Clintonism completely conquered Washington, and is the source of every D.C. establishment vice. If you took a straw poll of the consultants, the DNC types, and safe-seat House Members who surely represent an important part of the D.C. Democratic Establishment, I doubt you'd find anything like majority support for Joe Lieberman. He's only the embodiment of the Establishment when viewed through the looking glass of those who view all their friends as brave insurgents, and all their enemies as The Man.
I do, believe it or not, agree that Lieberman's view of the role of bipartisanship is outdated. I think it's one of two major topics, the other being the Iraq War, on which Lieberman's outlook is unjustifiably optimistic.

Since I've mentioned it, I'll use this opportunity to clarify my personal take on the Iraq War. First, I do believe Saddam Hussein needed to be removed from power, but I would not have voted for the resolution which gave Bush the authorization to use force in Iraq. Simply put, I think that any full-scale invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation should be done only with the active participation of the U.N. Security Council, or at least NATO (which was used in the Kosovo intervention). Coalitions of the willing are simply not a substitute for a true international force. Saddam Hussein was an absolutely brutal dictator whose regime needed to be changed, but it's not the job of the United States to decide when and how that regime change should have happened. In the words of my favorite author on foreign policy, Joseph Nye - right war, wrong time, wrong way.

In the years since the Iraq War began, Lieberman has refused to acknowledge the inevitable result of occupying a nation larger than California without a strong international mandate. His outlook on Iraq seems Panglossian in its outlook. In fact, I am often reminded of a lyric sung by Pangloss in Leonard Bernstein's operatic version of Candide when I think of Lieberman's persistent optimism on Iraq - "I've clung to my sanguine position/In the teeth of the ugliest facts." (Sorry...8 years of singing musical theater was bound to find its way into this blog sooner or later)

So there you have it. I disagree with Lieberman on Iraq and quite strongly. If you want to slam his position on it, you won't get any argument from me. What I will argue with is the notion that Iraq is all that matters, or even that it's more important than all the other vital issues facing this country.

If I had to zero in on one issue that is most important to me, it would definitely be education.
On this issue, Joe Lieberman has been a leader in fighting for greater educational opportunities for underprivileged students. It is often forgotten in the progressive blogosphere that the education system in this country is broken for tens of millions of students, and few leaders in either party have shown the political courage necessary to instigate real change.

Despite all the heat that No Child Left Behind gets from both ends of the political spectrum, NCLB represents the biggest push to improve the quality of education for underserved students since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. For that reason, I believe Lieberman was absolutely right to join Ted Kennedy in leading the Democrats' push for its passage. But George Bush went onto ensure that the act's title became a horrible irony. The fact that George Bush and Tom DeLay refused to provide the funding for NCLB is a despicable insult to the millions of students and teachers whose schools desperately need the money promised by NCLB, but who were shafted out of it by the GOP leadership.

I have spent the last two years studying education policy, particuarly its impact on low-income and minority students, and have personally seen failing inner city schools in Philadelphia. The students at these schools will never have a fair chance without the money promised by NCLB, and Lieberman has been among the most vocal proponents of fully funding NCLB. He has also repeatedly pushed for expanding access to and increasing the size of Pell Grants, which remains the most progressive financial aid program ever introduced in this country, and has fought against efforts to increase the interest rates on Stafford Loans. Even without bringing in his strong advocacy for the environment, stem cell research, and civil rights (the other issues which I feel most strongly about), Lieberman's strong progressive record on education nearly offsets my strong disagreement with him over Iraq.

I realize that I will never be able to convince someone that Lieberman is acceptable if their opposition to the Iraq War is so strong that they can see little else. But I think that such a single-minded focus on the war is a grave mistake when there are so many other problems in the country which will affect tens of millions of Americans for decades after the Iraq War ends.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Dan Gerstein

Dan Gerstein has just entered an official position with the Lieberman campaign. In light of this development, Dan and I have mutually agreed that it would be best if he ceased being a contributor on the blog while he is officially connected to the Lieberman campaign. As a result, I am now the blog's sole contributor, although I will be seeking another contributor or two to help fill the gap. I also should reiterate that I have always been the blog's sole administrator, just in case anyone decides to follow Jane Hamsher's dishonest attempts to question this blog's independence.

My own posting will be sparse for the next day or two as I finish moving into my new apartment and recover from a hand injury I sustained in the process. While I realize this is a critical stage in the campaign, please be patient if this page is short on updates for the next couple days.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Update: Just to briefly explain why I did not know about this before, I have been (as mentioned above) moving into an apartment for the past several days - the first apartment of my own, as a matter of fact, in case anyone had forgotten just how young and out of touch with the world of "real" politics I am. I honestly have not had the chance to read through any news articles on the Lieberman race since Friday as a result, which is why my only post this past weekend was an addendum to another post rather than an original one.

The simple truth is that I did not know Dan had entered into the official employ of the Lieberman campaign until a couple hours ago, and he hadn't officially joined the Lieberman team until last week (correction: see Update II) - before that, he was working for Tom Suozzi. Had I known before, I would have requested that he leave before. As it happened, he told me himself and simultaneously suggested that he take his leave of the blog. While I think Dan is a good writer and have greatly appreciated his contributions to the blog, I could not have agreed more that no one on the Lieberman campaign team should be connected to this blog.

That's the truth, pure and simple. Since I will be disappearing into my first year of law school in a few weeks and have no intention of making a career out of either politics or blogging, I have no motivation to lie - nor much of a reason to care if Jane Hamsher (or anyone else) doesn't believe me. Considering that I have been called a Nazi and received two emailed death threats in the past three weeks, being called a campaign plant by people who know nothing about me actually feels like an improvement.

I will be making a post in the near future outlining my original and continuing mission in starting this blog. In the meantime, please feel free to browse through the other posts, most of which are no less timely now than they were when they were written.

Update II: Dan made a comment to this post, and I just would like to point out two things from it:
  1. He is a volunteer, and so is not being and has not been paid by the Lieberman campaign during this cycle (he has said before that he was in their paid employ until the spring of '04, but not since).
  2. He did not enter his volunteer position with the Lieberman campaign until yesterday (my "last week" comment from above was apparently incorrect).
What is so amusing about all the conspiracy theories being swirled around right now is the unstated arrogance behind them. The assumption is that no rational person could possibly want to write positive things about Lieberman unless they were stupid, dishonest, or being paid - essentially saying "No sane person with free will could possibly disagree with me."

(By the way, did anyone notice when Kos appeared in a campaign commercial with Lamont? At least Dan decided to stop blogging once he volunteered to work for the Lieberman campaign.)

In any case, neither Dan nor I have received any money from the Lieberman campaign, and I have never had even the most tangential relationship with the Lieberman campaign. I'm going to leave it at that. Whoever wishes to spend time coming up with conspiracy theories to say otherwise can obviously do so at their leisure, though it is the very definition of an ad hominem attack (ignore the message, shoot the messenger). I'll be busy checking court dockets and worrying about when my A/C is going to start working.

- Matt

More Truth on Lieberman's Record

The Connecticut Post today became the latest state media outlet to publish an analysis piece busting the myths about Joe Lieberman's Democratic credentials and reaffirming that Lieberman is more than within the Democratic mainstream.

The article by Peter Urban is particularly noteworthy because it examines Lieberman's voting record in the Bush era, not just over his entire career. Here's the key graphs:

Since winning re-election in 2000, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has been a more dependable Democratic vote than during his two prior terms.

When Democrats and Republicans disagreed, Lieberman voted 90.5 percent of the time with his colleagues in roll call votes cast during his third term.

He sided with the majority of Democrats over Republicans only 78.9 percent of the time over the previous 10 years.

The 11.6 percentage point swing belies assertions by his critics — including Ned Lamont, his challenger in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary — that Lieberman has moved away from the Democratic mainstream. . .

The Connecticut Post examined 5,338 roll call votes cast in the Senate between Jan. 1, 1991, and June 22, 2006. Casting aside the votes in which the majority of Democrats and Republicans agreed, Lieberman stood with Democrats on 2,369 of 2,871 roll call votes, or 82.5 percent. Dodd voted 90.9 percent of the time with the Democratic majority during the same period.

But Lieberman's record shifted over time to support Democrats more often in his third term than he had in the previous decade.

Since winning re-election in 2000, Lieberman has sided with Democrats over Republicans on 813 of 898 roll call votes where the parties disagreed, or 90.5 percent. From 1991 through 2000, Lieberman sided with Democrats on 1,556 of 1,973 votes, or 78.9 percent. Lieberman and Dodd voted the same way on 2,460 of the 2,871 contested roll call votes — or 85.7 percent of the time. The two shared similar views on almost all the "key votes" that the National Journal identified in the 108th Congress. On those dozen votes, they separated on a single issue — restricting deployment of the Bush administration's missile defense system. Lieberman was for it, Dodd opposed.

They voted together in opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bush's tax cuts and energy policy. They voted together in support of abortion rights, extending an assault weapons ban and funding the Iraq war.

Lieberman receives a ranking of 76.4 percent from ProgressivePunch, a nonpartisan searchable database of Congressional voting records from a liberal perspective. The score, however, was deflated because of votes missed while Lieberman was running for president in 2003. He scored 85.5 percent among the 414 votes evaluated in which he actually voted. Dodd scores 87.2 percent from the liberal group.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

LieberDem Addendum

Say that five times fast...

As I indicated in the comments section of Dan's Alito post, Dan expressed many of the thoughts that I have been having over the past couple weeks about the Alito vote. Specifically, I strongly disagreed with the implicit assumption that Joe Lieberman could have somehow stopped Alito from being confirmed.

The sad truth is that there was no way for the Democrats to stop Alito from making it to the Supreme Court in this Congress. Had Democrats filibustered Alito, the Republicans would have sought the nuclear option. Bill Frist wanted to pursue that option during the showdown over appeals court judges in the spring of '05, and had enough of his caucus ready to back the measure to push it through (only 3 GOPers - McCain, Chafee, and Snowe - openly opposed the nuclear option). By mid-May, Frist and Reid had given up the pretense of seeking a compromise, and each leader was committed to lead his caucus down the road that would have ultimately ended with the nuclear option. Frist was, of course, only prevented from going down that path by the May 23 formation of the Gang of 14, of which Lieberman was a member.

And for those who say that the Gang of 14 has done nothing to stop Bush nominees, I refer you to the cases of circuit court nominees Henry Saad (forced to withdraw his nomination due to Gang resistance), William Myers (DOA in the Senate due to Gang resisitance), Terrence Boyle (nomination has been held up indefinitely due to Gang resistance), and William Haynes (ditto). The circuit courts are every bit as important as the Supreme Court, since the vast majority of major federal cases are decided at that level. So the Gang of 14 has hardly been a rubber stamp for Bush nominees, and its preservation has served a very important purpose.

I'd like to use an analogy with military strategy and history. Say that a defending army is faced with the approach of an invading force, setting up a battle over a fort that clearly has great strategic importance for both sides. The defending army realizes quickly that they will almost certainly lose the battle to defend the fort, even if they resist the invading army with all their might.

The defending army is faced with two choices at this point:
  1. Stay and fight to the end, with the final result being the loss of not only the fort, but also much of their ability to fight in the future.
  2. Retreat from the fort to a more strategically favorable position, thereby conceding the battle (and with it control of the fort) to the enemy, but also ensuring that their army retains its ability to continue the war.
Now, many would undoubtedly prefer option 1. It is the option that appeals to bravery, heroism, and other romantic ideals. But the smart military strategist will choose option 2. It might appear unseemly, even cowardly. But it's the strategy which ultimately provides the best chance to win the war. It's the strategy that George Washington took with the British - avoid direct confrontation unless victory seemed likely, even if it meant keeping his army in perpetual retreat for long stretches of time.

It might not sound like a courageous strategy, but it was obviously a smart one. The British eventually began wearing down, and changes in public and international opinion brought an infusion of energy and manpower to the American forces. Washington then began fighting (and winning) battles on his terms, and the tide of the war turned decisively in his favor. Great leaders, both in the military and in the civilian world, have always known that discretion is the better part of valor.

Such was the battle over Sam Alito. The battle was admittedly major, but it was not decisive; it was Wagram, not Waterloo. The four more progressive SCOTUS justices will continue vote to uphold progressive ideals, and Kennedy will be there with them on most major progressive issues as well. Kennedy's has consistently voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, meaning that the replacement of O'Connor with Alito did not spell doom for abortion rights. Throwing all the king's men into the fray over Alito would have ultimately accomplished nothing, and would not have changed the final outcome.

Odds are that there will not be another Supreme Court vacancy until at least after this year's midterms. Given the virtual certainty that the Democrats will gain seats this November, we will be in a much better position to fight nominations six months from now than we were six months ago. The Gang of 14 will become irrelevant after this term, and the GOP will almost certainly lose the votes necessary to invoke the nuclear option. This means that even if Democrats don't re-take control of the Senate, the Democrats will once again be able to use the filibuster freely and the GOP will not be able to do anything about it except curse and pound their fists.

Given those circumstances, Lieberman's decision to not fight to the (sadly inevitable) death on Alito was hardly unreasonable. Avoiding bloody conflicts until victory seems at least possible might not be a very sexy strategy, but history and common sense both show that it works.

Lieberman Wins Endorsements from Hartford Courant, Connecticut Post, and Washington Post

Today brings four major newspaper endorsements in the Lieberman-Lamont race -- -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Hartford Courant (the state's largest and most influential newspaper), and the Connecticut Post (one of the state's largest dailies, covering the Bridgeport area).

[NOTE: The Connecticut Post endorsement was not findable online, but the AP reported on it and quoted excerpts today.]

Most of the attention, particularly in the blogosphere, will focus on the Times' editorial backing Lamont. The Lieberman-haters will undoubtedly trumpet this validation from the bellwether of elite conventional wisdom, despite the fact that it was far more a kneejerk attack on the incumbent than a convincing brief for the challenger (more on that in a moment). They will also probably neglect to mention that the Washington Post took the diametrically opposite tack in endorsing Lieberman (more on that too).

But in terms of actual electoral influence, limited as newspaper endorsements may be, the editorials from the Courant and Connecticut Post are far more significant. That is especially true if you apply the "Connecticut knows best" standard that the out-of-state Lieberman-haters keep touting to deflect attention from their primary role in fueling the campaign to purge Joe Lieberman from the party.

These local editorial boards are most familiar with Lieberman's record/character and the dynamics of the race. They are most likely to make a choice not based on their own ideological agendas and pet peeves, but on the needs and interests of the people of Connecticut. And both papers embraced Joe Lieberman as clearly the best choice to serve the state in the Senate.

What was most notable about The Courant's endorsement was its explicit rejection of the politics of purity that is driving the Lamont campaign. This is an editorial board that is often to the left of Lieberman and has had several disagreements with him on the issues over the years. But that did not stop the Courant's editors from seeing and reaffirming one of Lieberman's greatest strengths -- his ability to rise above the excessive partisanship that is corroding Washington and get things done for his constituents and his country.

Mr. Lieberman has gained considerable influence in his 18 years in the Senate. His specialty is working with Republican moderates - and sometimes conservatives - to craft bills that can pass the most divided, least civil Congress in memory.

As head of the Governmental Affairs Committee in 2002, he wrote the Senate's version of the homeland security bill. With Republican Sen. John McCain and the 9/11 families, he forced President Bush to accept a bipartisan commission to investigate the intelligence failures leading to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. The commission's riveting report sold more than a million copies, and some of its most important recommendations were embraced. The list goes on. . .

From his seat on the Armed Services Committee, he helped save the Groton sub base and its thousands of jobs. He brought home a lot more bacon than Connecticut had any reason to expect from the 2005 federal transportation bill.

But the most compelling passage of the editorial is The Courant's reasoned take on Iraq:

[Lieberman] is now called a renegade by many in his party for standing with President Bush on the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We have not often agreed with Mr. Lieberman on the conduct of the war but admire his sticking to his beliefs in the face of withering criticism. Not enough members of Congress have such character.

He was not alone among Democrats in giving Mr. Bush authority in 2002 to attack Iraq: 81 House and 28 other Senate Democrats joined him. But Mr. Lieberman crossed the party line last November when he argued in the conservative Wall Street Journal that "our troops must stay" -- although few Democrats in Congress would disagree that they must, for now -- and later scolded that "in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." Partly for this regrettable phrase that he contends was taken out of context, antiwar partisans would remove him from office.

Mr. Lieberman's history of enthusiasm for military interventions overseas is an anomaly in a man famous for mediating among warring factions in Washington. But to dismiss this moderate -- a vanishing breed in a Congress sundered by extremism on both sides -- for dissenting on a single issue would be a terrible waste. And a mistake.

It would show an intolerance unworthy of any political party.

The Connecticut Post's endorsement strikes a similarly pointed blow against the Lieberman-haters' purge campaign and the myth that Lieberman is not a good Democrat.

Democrats like to pride themselves on being the political party of the "Big Tent" under which a diversity of views co-exist in the interest of larger social welfare goals. Is there not room now under that tent for Connecticut's junior senator?

We trust that's not the case and, therefore, the Connecticut Post endorses Joseph I. Lieberman to be the Democratic Party's candidate for U.S. Senate. Look at the Lieberman record. It spans more than 35 years of elected public service starting in 1970 when he was first elected to the state Senate, continuing in 1982 with his election as state attorney general, one of the first "activist" attorney generals in the nation and then moving on to three terms in the U.S. Senate.

There have been many times when we've disagreed with the senator, but his overall record is commendable and the record of a fighter who has been there for Connecticut in the areas of defense contracts, the environment, education, health care, civil rights, and transportation.

The Washington Post's endorsement also hinged on Lieberman's exceptional ability to find common ground for the good of the country without compromising core Democratic ideals. In particular, the Post underscored the value of Lieberman's thoughtful, hateless approach to the Democratic Party going forward.

Noting that Lieberman is being pummeled for working with Republicans as much as for his position on Iraq, the Post argued "that's a criticism that strikes us as shortsighted even from a partisan Democratic point of view." The editorial went on:

Throughout his Senate career, Mr. Lieberman has been faithful to the fundamental values that most Democrats associate with their party: care for the environment; dedication to a progressive tax code and other ways to help the poor and middle classes; and support for Israel and other democracies around the world. But he's managed to hold on to those values while also working with Republicans to move legislation forward: with Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, on homeland security; or with John McCain (R-Ariz.) on climate change.

This is a talent and temperament that is helpful to the Democrats in the minority but will be needed even more if there's a change in power in one or both houses of Congress or, in 2008, in the White House. Then, more than ever, the Democratic Party, if it hopes to accomplish anything, will need people such as Mr. Lieberman who bring some civility to an increasingly uncivil capital -- who can accept the idea that opponents may disagree in good faith and who can then work to find areas of agreement and assemble working majorities of 60 senators. His ability to do so is a strength, not a weakness, for the party as well as the nation.

Now compare these arguments with those in the New York Times editorial. The Times makes no mention of the Lieberman's many major policy contributions, though there are few predictable words of faint praise for opposing the Bush tax cuts and supporting a woman's right to choice and environmental protection. Nor, more significantly for a paper that purports to cover Connecticut, is there any mention of Lieberman's many accomplishments on behalf of the state.

Instead, the bulk of the editorial -- which claims Lieberman has "forfeited" the Times' support -- is devoted to excoriating the Senator for not despising George Bush enough. The Times' chief complaint is not about Lieberman's position on Iraq, but that Lieberman has not obstructed the President's conduct of the war on terror at every turn, calling him one the Bush Administration's "most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates. . . There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance.

Beyond being clearly inaccurate -- "never challenges them"? -- these statements are quite telling. The fact is, Lieberman has been critical of the President and the Republican Congress on many occasions related to Iraq and the war on terror, just not in the bitter, apocalyptic tones that some on the left (and now the New York Times) demand.

And that really is the crux of the matter here. All of Lieberman's good works and his great character are rendered meaningless, not even worth a passing reference, simply because he is more outraged by the deaths of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 than the torture of foreign enemy combatants and potential terrorists in Iraq.

Let's be clear: Lieberman spoke out against the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and he supported John McCain's amendment banning torture. He just tried to introduce some perspective and proportionality to the issue, which we now know is an unforgivable sin to those who actually believe that George Bush is a greater threat to America than Osama Bin Laden.

What was equally telling was the Times' minimalist appraisal of Ned Lamont. In endorsing a candidate for U.S. Senate in a time of war, the nation's preeminent newspaper could only muster two sentences on the challenger's qualifications -- one of which highlighted his inexperience.

Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

What really jumped out to me there is the use of the word "moderate" to describe Lamont. Lamont seemingly was a moderate before deciding to jump on the anti-Lieberman bandwagon, voting with Republicans on his town council 80 percent of the time. Now during this campaign he is embracing the hard-line, anti-Clinton wing of the party that wants to resurrect protectionist trade policies, government-run health care, and unaccountable public schools.

The truth is we don't know what Ned Lamont is, though by all appearances he seems to be more of a dilettante and an opportunist than a liberal or a moderate. And for the Times to blithely overlook that troubling fact, and tout the candidacy of a cypher who is clearly unqualified to be a U.S. Senator out of pique with Joe Lieberman's civility, suggests that Grey Lady has sadly been seduced by the Kossacks and blinded by the same anger that animates them. Indeed, if anyone has forfeited anything here, it is the Times kissing away its credibility as a fair-minded arbiter of America's national interest.

Fortunately, the Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Post know who Joe Lieberman is, and they have given their readers more than good reason to entrust their junior senator with another term serving them in the Senate.