Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Lieberman’s lessons?

E.J. Dionne, Jr. thinks that Joe Lieberman can "grow" as a result of his primary experience and that such growth would be good for the Democrats. Defining party purity in terms of pacifist internationalism and inveterate opposition to the Bush Administration, which Dionne by implication seems to favor, seems to me to be a return to McGovernism (with even less reason than in 1972 and likely ultimately with the same electoral results).

Discussions - 6 Comments

I don’t know if it’s so likely to be like 1972 again. We had a lot of old WWII vets & others around then who voted en bloc for Nixon. A lot of them are still with us, and still vote, but I notice many bought off on a lot of the war revisionism, and see this as just another Vietnam and by God we won’t get took again. You just can’t take those ol’ guys for granted, and the elderly women are even more prone to pacifism now.

And then there are the gen Xers and Yers. I fear the Reps will get hit from both ends of the voter spectrum in ’08.


You’re setting up a false choice between unqualified support for Bush administration blundering and "pacifist internationalism." It’s hardly pacifist to say that we should have better reasons to invade and occupy a country than the reasons we had to go into Iraq, and it’s hardly pacifist to say that the Senate should stand up to the President. The latter, if anything, is good old American respect for the dignity of our plural and divided institutions, I’d say.


You’re right that there is a measured reponse to the perils of the world that may not quite be that of the Bush Administration. In the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman and Peter Beinart represent it, but that’s not the position to which Dionne is giving aid and comfort.


Without attempting to sound rude: Your post posited a false choice, your reply to my comment posits no choice. (The "aid and comfort" language underlines an intimation of treason, which has been used all too often by the right to attempt to stifle the debate that might have led to better, more considered, less costly policies. Everyone knows that you only "give aid and comfort" to the enemy, not to those who wish you well.) At any rate, Lieberman’s and Beinart’s aggressive attacks on those who dared to criticize Bush’s push for war in Iraq, and its prosecution, do not reflect the best traditions of either the Senate or opinion journalism.


I’m not accusing anyone of treason, only of short-sightedness. People are attempting to punish Lieberman at the polls, not because they think he’s a smidge too cosy with the Bush Administration, but because he dares favor a vigorous response to the world’s challenges. I think that Evan Bayh said a couple fo weeks ago that credibility on national security was the sine qua non for voters taking the Democrats seriously. I agree. And I think that turfing Joe Lieberman is a step in the wrong direction.

I myself am torn. I would rather have a responsible than an irresponsible opposition on national security matters. But an irresponsible opposition makes it much more likely that "my guys" (and I don’t embrace them all, or whole-heartedly) continue in office.

I’d love to see a middle ground, but Dionne and the netroots aren’t advocating it.

"...attempting to punish Lieberman at the polls..." - it’s not as if Lieberman is somehow ENTITLED to another term. If he lost the election it wouldn’t be denial of something to which he has a right of any kind. If he wants another term, he’s got to earn it by getting the votes.

If voters are planning on/will be "punishing" him (by not voting for him), then perhaps they’re not interpreting Lieberman’s support for Iraq as "a vigorous response to the world’s challenges," but an inappropriate response (however vigorous it may be - was too much vigor applied at Abu Ghraib?) that has done considerably more harm than good.

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