Monday, December 17, 2007

Turncoat Joe

So when Joe Lieberman refers to himself as an "Independent Democrat", that apparently means he's a Republican. No surprise, that. Still, just seven years removed from accepting the Democratic Party's Vice Presidential nomination, the Connecticut senator finally cut his remaining ties to his long-time allies by endorsing John McCain for president. At this point, he may as well cross over to the other side, compelete the lie he told his constituents two years ago, and sit as a full member of the GOP.

Clearly, Lieberman remains obsessed with the Iraq War. He delivered his endorsement to the most hawkish plausible candidate, Mr. Surge. Rudy and Mitt may talk tough, but McCain went all in on the escalation when almost everyone not named Cheney was convinced it would fail. Lieberman, too, supported the Bush Administration's efforts to double down after four years of quagmire and no doubt sees his colleague as a brave armchair warrior like himself (though, of course, McCain once put himself at great physical risk, while Joe has never done anything more dangerous than drive the beltway).

Regardless, one suspects that Lieberman's tranformation had at least as much to do with domestic politics as it did with foreign policy. By all accounts, the senator deeply resents the successful drive by progressive bloggers and their allies to deprive him of the Democratic nomination in his 2006 re-election campaign. That is understandable, I suppose, but ignores the resentment he himself generated by publicly questioning the patriotism of fellow Democrats who did not believe, as he did, that the best way to respond to the attacks of 9/11 was to invade a country utterly uninvolved in the atrocities.

Nevertheless, the attempt to unseat Lieberman was not the left blogosphere's finest hour. First, it displayed embarrassing amateurism. Nobody had apparently bothered to notice that Connecticut law allowed the senator to run as an independent if he lost the primary. Also unanticipated was the possibility that the GOP would abandon its own hopeless candidate in favor of delivering a humiliating blow to the Democrats by supporting Lieberman's victorious third party bid.

Second, Lieberman was, for all his faults, a reliably liberal senator on most issues other than the War on Terror. His conduct leading up to the Iraq War may have been disgraceful, but one must never lose sight of the bigger picture. And in 2006, the bigger picture was to recapture Congress from the Republicans. The loss of Lieberman almost thwarted that goal, and even today puts the Dems one seat behind as they fight to build a true majority in 2008.

Had the bloggers held their fire, Lieberman would almost certainly be a committed, if annoying and sometimes disloyal, Democrat to this day. He would likely be endorsing Hillary Clinton, rather than John McCain, for president. Instead, it seems clear that he will caucus with the GOP come January, 2009.

Sometimes, folks, it's just best to grit your teeth and bear it.


redbarb said...

If the lefty bloggers had just ignored Lieberman, how would he be different now in the Senate? He'd still be a big fan of the Iraq War. He'd still be the Republicans favorite Democrat. Maybe he doesn't endorse McCain, but that's just a maybe. A news clip on MSNBC had him saying "no one asked me" when responding to why he didn't endorse a Democrat. Would they have asked him and join with the biggest Democratic hawk in the Congress? I think he'd still be ignored and his ego would lead him to be very much as he is now.

The Man Who Was Never Born said...

True, with one big difference. The Dems, as I said, wouldn't be down a seat going into the 2008 election. That may be critical next year. I'm a pretty big fan of Kos and friends, but I thought the Connecticut move was a big blunder.