Following Senator Joe Lieberman's narrow loss in yesterday's Connecticut primary, The New York Times published an op-ed analysis by New Republic editor Noam Scheiber, who draws exactly the wrong conclusion.
It wasn't Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq, and by extension, President Bush, that cost him his seat, argues Scheiber, it was "the perception that he's a less than reliable partisan."
What Americans -- liberals in particular -- are desperately hungering for is less partisanship. We don't want the Democratic leadership to start aping the tactics of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their legion of lockstep lunatics like Frist, DeLay, Ney, Brownback, Santorum and countless others. It's not helpful for Democrats to criticize Republican actions or proposals for being "Republican" or "Conservative" and therefore bad -- we want them attacked on the merits.
Partisan rancor is the last thing liberals want more of.
Scheiber reaches his conclusion by saying that Lieberman was a "reliable" liberal vote on many important Democratic issues: abortion rights, ANWR, minimum wage, etc. The one area where he departed from the Democratic mainstream was on the war, and that's what cost him.
But Lieberman wasn't rejected for supporting a "dissenting foreign policy view." He was rejected for supporting a foreign policy that is based on fantasy. The war in Iraq isn't bad or wrong because it was started by Republicans, it's bad because it's a disaster.
Voters want politicians who are grounded in reality. Hopefully Senator Lieberman will come to realize that what he had wasn't "Joe-mentum," it was "Joe-mentia."
UPDATE: Apparently my sentiments are shared by Dependable Renegade, Slacktivist, TinMan and, stingingly, Useless! Worthless! Insipid!