Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What to Learn from Lieberman

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."

Sorry, wrong.

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!


Mike B. said...

Sting aside, I don't entirely agree with you either. Partisanship is precisely what's been missing from the Democratic party in recent years and what it's starting to regain.

When a party is completely shut out of power (and the Democrats are as weakened as any party has ever been in this country), the only useful tactic it has at its disposal is vigorous opposition--not across the board, but to any policy that's strongly objectionable. We have to make a case that we'd do better.

Lieberman is so quick to concede, and so vocal about the value of compromise, that party lines are blurred. When power is shared, that's probably okay. But we can't have it now if we're going to have a country left to run once the winds finally change.

Andy said...

Well, then you and I have different understandings of what "partisan" means. To me, it's to revert to a default position that Party A is right and Party B is wrong, and I think Americans are sick of that. What I want to see more of is Party A saying, "We're both looking at the same problem, but we see different ways of solving it. Here are the ways our solution is better."

Unfortunately what we've got is elected Democrats who are so cowardly, and Republican strategists who are so ruthless and so cunning, that Democrats are afraid to make any strong opposition, ironically because of the fear of looking "weak." The one time during the Bush administration they really did it right was on Social Security -- and look what happened! The minority party scuttled the whole plan.

That cowardice extends to the present Election 2006 plan, which apparently is to attempt to take credit for the Republican party's self-annihilation. "Republicans Are Corrupt, So Vote For Us!" appears to be our platform. Feh.

Travis said...

Now that their boy has lost, perhaps Republicans will end the commentary on Democratic primaries, and get off their ass to help the moderates in their own party win their respective primaries.

Lincoln Chafee, the only GOP senator to vote against the Iraq War, is in an equally tough primary against a far-right conservative. While Republicans say that Lieberman's loss means that the Democrats are going left, and do not welcome differing views, it is worth noting that no significant Republican has been helping the liberal Chafee.

In fact, the goal is to rid the GOP of moderates.

Why do I have a feeling the GOP is spending so much time talking about Democratic primaries, just so they don't have to talk about GOP primaries like Chafees?

little-cicero said...

You have every right in a Democracy to vote out someone you disagree with, but consider what you're doing with your party by defecating on the Senator from Conneticut.

First of all, he's not pro-War. He probably has as low an opinion of the war as most Democrats, but he believes that considering the depth of our involvement it is best to finish the job in Iraq. That is his position. He's not a cheerleader for the administration.

Secondly, it is not an impeachable offense to have one opinion of many on which your constituents disagree with you. It is not as if the disbanding of our forces relies upon the singular voice of Joe Lieberman- if he stays in his seat nothing concerning the war will really change. On the other hand, us conservatives personally and now politically have substantial respect for Joe. He has a ninety-six (? somewhere in the nineties) percent liberal voting record. He will be much more effective than his opponent in communicating, and maybe even persuading, Republicans.

Most importantly, the Democratic Party is viewed as weak on defense because it has no answers other than withdrawal. Lieberman is the only Democrat who seems committed with his heart to bringing our boys home winners! He not only has a plan for our troops- he has a plan for their mission.

Do you want to know why people of my persuasion care about Lieberman winning? Not because there's any foreign policy consequence, but because decent Americans want there to be two strong parties that mean something in the USA. You have lost with Lieberman the last Democrat in the Senate whom I can truly respect.

Mike B. said...

Oh, go away, you tiresome little fool. You as usual have no idea what you're talking about--opposing an incumbent is not tantamount to defecating on him, he is very much pro-war however you want to spin it, his voting record sounds very liberal only taken out of context as a statistic, and he persuades far less than he allows himself to be persuaded.

Why do you allow yourself to be a mouthpiece for the people grinding your country into the dirt?

DJRainDog said...

Mikey, this is the problem: We reasonable intelligent people who see what the evil elephants are doing trampling all over our country and want to oppose them are too frequently inclined to say things like, "Oh, go away, you tiresome little fool." (And even to punctuate them properly, 'cause we're assiduous like that.) And yes, they ARE tiresome little fools, but they're tiresome little fools with power, and that makes them dangerous. We're in this situation, in part, because in the beginning, we misunderestimated the power of fools. Now, we have to deal with them; we have to defeat them, to best them on every level. Vive la revolution! By Any Means Necessary.

little-cicero said...

Question: Can one be against a war while insisting on its continuation?

Answer: Only if one is mature enough to push aside his own opinions in favor of what is best for his country.

little-cicero said...

Oh, by the way Mike, the liberal blogosphere has defecated on the man. They have made a basically good friendly guy into public enemy #1 with volatile hate usually reserved for tyrants or 21st Century Presidents.

DJRainDog said...

What is honestly best for the country, little-cicero, would be to find a way to quickly end our involvement in Middle Eastern affairs altogether and let them just destroy themselves or reach some sort of stasis as they will. Our meddling has been nothing but trouble, historically. Unfortunately, a complete pull-out will never happen. Americans, with their wrong-headed sense of rectitude, will always insist on meddling in the affairs of others.

Andy said...

Once again Little Cicero displays a bassackwards understanding of how our government works. He laments that judges ignore what the majority of Americans want, even though the founding fathers intentionally set up the judiciary to be independent of majority will.

Then he goes and yells at us for dumping an ELECTED OFFICIAL who wasn't doing what his constituents wanted.


kr pdx said...

Sheesh, LC, I leave you alone for a week ... ! There are more than "boys" to bring home, winners or losers. "Soldiers," please. You shouldn't be calling those men "boys" (even though it is cliche') any more than you should be leaving out the females.

DJR: A thing to consider:

Cain asks: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

For me, this moment in the Biblical stories encapsulates an idea that took me many years to understand and that I came to through an atheist friend: we are in fact ultimately co-responsible. Everything I have seen from you suggests you also believe this, in most applications--or at least that you feel the bite of it when you or others don't live up to it.

I totally agree that we (Americans/America) have historically completely fucked everything up in the Middle East (although not as badly as the outright colonizers did in the Americas and in Africa--God, to think we are an "improvement"!) ... but I disagree that a total pullout by America and Americans from the Middle East is the best answer.

Some American organizations have enough humanitarian credibility that they have managed to keep operations active and on the ground even in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, through everything in the last bunch of years and with the support of and even by the invitation of those governments.

We need to find a way to leverage the good parts of "America" into power in the government, so that the billions the government controls are used more humanely, or at least less visciously ... so we can stop "meddling," perhaps, yes, but maybe move on to actually helping ...

It frightened me how true a reflection it seemed of our reality, in the (fantasy) TV series "Commander in Chief," when the Speaker of the House tried to convince the Vice President that she should abdicate the Presidency because she didn't "want" the power, and that noone should be President if they don't WANT that power ... . How do we find a way to leverage people into the power who don't "want" the power, but are competent to wield it (and I would say more inherently competent to use that power than anyone who tries to grab it because they desire it)?

(Dude! Check it out ... I brought my random sidethoughts back around to the topic! Bonus!)

Andy said...

Can one be against a war while insisting on its continuation?

Answer: Only if one is mature enough to push aside his own opinions in favor of what is best for his country. The correct answer is, "Only if someone is desperate enough to cling to a certain political ideology that he is willing to embrace a cognitive dissonance."

little-cicero said...

I'm currently screaming in my head over the decision to insert that cliche KR! Why did you have to bring that up?! NOOOOOOOOOOO!

It was meant as a play-on-cliche Liberals love to say "bring our boy's home" but what they're really saying is "bring our boy's home losers". I've never used the cliche seriously for the very reason you pointed out- in fact it's something that sticks in my craw like you cannot believe (if I was in your shoes I would have scolded little cicero for this as well).

little-cicero said...

Andy- you seem to have an almost complete lack of empathy for my side of the argument on the war. Can you please summarize in neutral terms the argument behind the position of remaining in Iraq until the Iraqi government assumes control?

I'll show you:

The logic behind withdrawal (be it immediate or gradual) is that since civil war is supposedly imminent in Iraq and chances for progress unlikely, it is better to stop American casualty rates in their tracks than to remain to fight a hopeless cause.

Andy said...

I would support a candidate who said we owed it to the Iraqi people to make good on our promises, something which I believe President Bush has no intention of doing -- or any idea how.

It would take admitting loudly and clearly that we were wrong with our assertions about WMD's and wrong to tie Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda and 9/11, wrong to not let the UN inspectors finish their job, and wrong to ignore the advice of our long-time allies around the world. If we had a truly multi-national force in Iraq that was led by the UN, not America, that consisted of many hundreds of thousands of troops, perhaps we could contain the violence we have unleashed there.

Even so, I am not convinced that the Iraqi people really want democracy. Yes, big turnouts for the elections they've had there, that's a good sign. But nothing much more happened than Shiites voted for Shiites, Sunnis voted for Sunnis, and Kurds voted for Kurds. Where's the unity in that? The way I read those tea leaves civil war is probably an inevitability.

The war in Iraq is NOT a "crucial front" in the war on terror; in fact, it was the struggle against terror's greatest blunder. It is inspiration to terrorists, not deterrence.

Joe Lieberman can't see that -- any of it. This President in particular is NOT to be trusted. Not because of partisanship, but because Bush has proven himself time and time again to be a liar and a tyrant; he is a threat to our constitution.

little-cicero said...

Once again- try to phrase my argument in neutral terms. Empathy! There can be no clarity without empathy!

Gino said...

i see one less rabid zionist coopting american foriegn policy in favor of israel.

joe was a nice man, but that didnt make him right.

but i've never seen a more partisan party than the democrats are right now.
i dont remember their opposition to clinton's bombing the hell out of serbia when there was absolutely no american interest in doing so. do you?
was murtha accusing our servicemen of being war criminals then, even though thousands of serb citizens were suffering, and dieing like dogs?
was john kerry parading his purple hearts before a draft dodging president who lacked moral autority to wage war?

the democrats are losing their ass in the war for public opinion. and its not for thier positions. its because of their hypocrasy.

Andy said...

Gino: good points!

Allow me just a brief rebuttal. I'm no huge Clinton fan -- after all, DADT was his idea, and he signed DOMA and did a lot of other bad things. But I confess, I long for the days of a president who could speak in complete sentences.

I'm glad you brought up the Balkan war. A couple of differences from the Iraq war: we did not invade; it was a genuine multinational coalition; it was done with UN and NATO cooperation; Clinton did not lie and claim the fracture of Yugoslavia was a direct threat to American security, he was trying to stop acts of genocide. Also in terms of scale, we didn't deploy hundreds of thousands of troops, it didn't strain the military's capacity, we didn't sink billions of dollars into it (remember Clinton left us with a surplus) and the result was largely successful.

All the while, the Republicans engaged in partisan protestations advocating a more isolationist foreign policy. George W. Bush specifically campaigned in 2000 deriding Clinton's "nation building" use of the military.

Look what happened. Jus' sayin'.

kr pdx said...

LC: screaming in my head: serves ya' right (snicker) ;).

Gino said...

first of, bush didnt lie.
2nd, the GOP offered virtually no resistence to the bosnia war. a few congresspersons made noise, but the party itself made a point of supporting the administration, and the troops,in a time of war.

3rd, billions, or just one bilion, or 10thousand, a legitimate cause in national defense should bear any price.

4th, iraq war also is a genuine interntional coalition.

trying to prevent acts like 9/11 is a legitimate job, and i'd say, duty, of the american president. genocide anywhere else is not.

somebody else, maybe you, made the point about keping our promise to the iraqis. this we need to do, to a level that is reasonably practable.
THIS level can be debated. but nobody on the left is doing it. insteade, we get cindy sheehan being treated as the first lady of the dem party.

my prediction in all this:
lieberman will be reelcted as an independant, furthering the hemoraging of moderates from that party. the GOP big tent will grow, further eroding its ability to get anything done that is even remotely conservative or reformatory.

leaving us with two viable parties.
the Govt Status Quo Party and the Moonbat Cabaret Party.

and no real alternatives...