Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman Down But Not Out

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) was edged out in the Connecticut Senate primary today by a new-comer and extremist liberal Ned Lamont by a 52%-48% margin. Lieberman, however, is not giving up. He will launch an independent candidacy for the Senate, which will have the backing of many Connecticut Republicans. Lamont was joined on the campaign trail by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, noted for his past anti-Semitic comments. Former close Clinton advisor Lanny Davis penned a column in today's Wall Street Journal complaining about the anti-semitic bigotry that Lamont failed to distance himself from during his campaign against Lieberman.

While Connecticut voters were embracing extremism, Georgia voters were rejecting it by a big margin. The anti-Semitic Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), who once suggested that President Bush was behind the 911 attacks, and who has been very vocal in her opposition to the war in Iraq and Israel, was resoundingly defeated in her bid for re-election by Democrat attorney Hank Johnson in a largely African-American district. Unlike Connecticut, these Georgia voters chose moderation over extremism.


Anonymous said...

Tip O'Neill lives:

"All politics is local."

The national pundits who are trumpeting these victories by challengers, have tried to connect it to something, and they are falling on their faces.

Plainly and simply: local voters made different choices. Excellent candidates won. In Lieberman's case, an excellent senator lost. It happens.

Doug said...

What extreme views does Ned Lamont hold?

Anonymous said...

August 9, 2006

NYTimes Editorial

Revenge of the Irate Moderates
The defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman at the hands of a little-known Connecticut businessman is bound to send a message to politicians of both parties that voters are angry and frustrated over the war in Iraq. The primary upset was not, however, a rebellion against the bipartisanship and centrism that Mr. Lieberman said he represented in the Senate. Instead, Connecticut Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House.

Ned Lamont, a relative political novice, said he ran against Mr. Lieberman because he was offended by the senator’s sunny descriptions of what was happening in Iraq and his denunciation of Democrats who criticized the administration’s handling of the war. Many other people in Connecticut may have felt that sense of frustration, but no one else had the money and moxie to do what Mr. Lamont did. Mr. Lieberman was stunned to find himself on the defensive, and it was only in the last few weeks that the 18-year veteran mounted a desperate campaign to reclaim his party’s support.

Senator Lieberman says he will run as an independent in November, taking on Mr. Lamont and the Republican, Alan Schlesinger. Mr. Schlesinger is a very weak candidate, but Mr. Lieberman should consider the risk of splitting his party if the Republicans are able to convince Mr. Schlesinger to drop out of the race in favor of a stronger nominee.

Mr. Lieberman’s supporters have tried to depict Mr. Lamont and his backers as wild-eyed radicals who want to punish the senator for working with Republicans and to force the Democratic Party into a disastrous turn toward extremism. It’s hard to imagine Connecticut, which likes to be called the Land of Steady Habits, as an encampment of left-wing isolationists, and it’s hard to imagine Mr. Lamont, who worked happily with the Republicans in Greenwich politics, leading that kind of revolution.

The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.

Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person’s right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.

When Mr. Lieberman told The Washington Post, “I haven’t changed. Events around me have changed,” he actually put his finger on his political problem. His constituents felt that when the White House led the country into a disastrous international crisis and started subverting the nation’s basic traditions, Joe Lieberman should have changed enough to take a lead in fighting back.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Doug--I'll let Michael Goodwin answer that question:

Leftward, march! The sucking sound you heard from Connecticut last night was the air going out of the war on terror. At least among many Democrats.
The party's voters have spoken - and they are wrong to try to fire Joe Lieberman after three distinguished terms in the Senate. Now we know what a nutmeg really is. It has something to do with a nutty decision.

Don't buy the baloney that Lieberman lost his primary race because he had lost touch with his home base on a range of issues. Rich upstart Ned Lamont was all about Lieberman's support for the Iraq war and coziness with President Bush. That's what this election was about, period.

So now that the wackadoo wing of the party has a bloody scalp, what are they going to do with it? Wave it at Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Lebanon and Afghanistan and Indonesia and Great Britain and Spain and Israel and New York and declare peace? That will work for sure. They better also wear armor and duck.

Lieberman is the first casualty of the war against the war on terror. If last night's results are a window on the party's tilt, then a huge slice of the Democratic party is ready to sit out the war to protect America. God help us if the Republicans also get the wobblies. Let's hope the Connecticut Condition isn't contagious. And let's hope last night's decision is overturned.

Lieberman's decision to stay in the race as an independent is the right one. Given the close margin, all the state's voters deserve a chance to have their say. Perhaps they will fix what the Democrats broke.

That many Americans are disgusted with events in Iraq is understandable. Nothing has gone as planned or promised, a point Lieberman made with some regularity. But wars never go easily, and thus are always unpopular at some point.

Even "good" wars have their bad moments, causing otherwise sensible people to look for the exits.

That is happening across our nation with Iraq, which, given the lousy intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, never was a "good" war. Yet Iraq, in all its hellishness, is important, even vital to regional stability and American security. Unplug America's commitment there, which is what the Lamont crowd is about, and how exactly does that help us? Will the terrorists suddenly stop attacking us and our allies?

And does the price of peace also require us to abandon Israel and the moderate Arab governments who are our allies in fighting the terrorists? Indeed, there was a surreal quality to the television news last night: Stations cutting away from the Israeli-Hezbollah war to update the election results, and vice versa. Too bad no one thought to link them as two parts of one story, which is what they are.

Congressional Democratic leaders recently demanded that Bush begin withdrawing our troops this year, regardless of events in Iraq. They called it a "redeployment." When I said that redeployment was another word for retreat, a top party operative disagreed. He said, earnestly, that Dems favored keeping about 35,000 troops "in the region" as something like a police force. "We could go back into Iraq if we had to," he said.

This is fantasy. And that's what Lamont's victory is based on. That somehow we can pull out of Iraq, tell the terrorists they win - and we and our allies will not suffer any consequences. And if those Islamists misbehave, well, we'll just scoot back over there with our police force and arrest those naughty fellows.

I believe that Islamic terrorists will stop at nothing in their mad quest to rule the globe. As a result, World War III has started, whether we like it or not. It will continue, whether we fight back or not. But if we think we can win by not fighting, then we're not just wrong. We're nuts. As in nutmeg.

stAllio! said...

lamont is an extremist because of his opposition to the war?

from http://www.nedlamont.com/issues

"I believe:

* That the war in Iraq has diverted far too many of our dollars, and too much of our attention, from our needs back home. The crisis in health care, lack of progress towards energy independence, and struggling public schools are examples of how our government is not leading, but allowing lobbyists and special interests to write the rules."

what is so extreme about this, particularly today when the majority of americans don't support the war or the president's handling of it?

Anonymous said...

I hope you're wrong, Gary, re: W.W. III. But I sense you're not.

But what I want to see, is a stronger definition of "fighting terror." Lieberman and Bush couldn't get it right...few can get it right as long as Bush defines it so narrowly.

FT cannot be the complete lack of regard for the Geneva Conventions, and all the virtues our ancestors have fought for.

FT cannot be about the dwindling of our civil liberties, to the point we have almost none.

FT cannot be whatever the prevailing winds define it to be, ala Bush. And it cannot be about the arrogant heavy-handed imposition of our brand of democracy everywhere. Nobody's gag reflex works very well.

FT has to be, among many other things: a sense of common ground, of history, of our legacy of free ideas and free speech, and freedom from state-imposed thinking on any subject.

Because this enemy is faceless, and has no nation per sey, we need to be sure we root out terror with as much international help as we can muster. And given this President's reckless campaign against terror, that is going to be difficult for many, many years.

And the Fight on Terror has to be less about religion, and more about senseless killing in the name of gods.

In short, it's all about definitions. And if we frame this properly, it won't be just Britain standing with us.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Lamont used Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton in his campaign against Lieberman. Both of these men have a history of making anti-Semitic comments. Lanny Davis cited numerous examples of supporters of Lamont preying on religious bigotry to rally support for Lamont's candidacy against Lieberman. When conservative Republicans do this sort of thing, they are called extremists. I don't think liberal Democrats should be treated any differently on this score.

Doug said...

I'll disagree that Lamont's antipathy to the war in Iraq and its execution constitute extremism. I'd have to see more evidence of anti-Semitism on the part of Lamont than association with Sharpton and Jackson.

My radar goes up when I hear about "extremism" ever since I saw Howard Dean tarred with that label. He was vocally against the Iraq War when that was not fashionable, and I think that's mostly what the label was based on at the time. But, because I'd been following him, I knew that Dean was relatively conservative fiscally and that, during his tenure as Vermont Governor, his fellow Democrats in the state viewed him as too conservative. Nevertheless, Dean was referred to as the poster child of the "wacko" left.

Both Lamont and Dean appear to be very partisan Democrats, I'll grant you. But that's not the same as liberal or extreme.

Anonymous said...

If you have to ask what's extreme about Ned Lamond, you might just be a little extreme yourself...

Doug said...

>>If you have to ask what's extreme about Ned Lamond, you might just be a little extreme yourself...<<

O.k., now that's just stupid.

Anonymous said...

"Ok, now that's just stupid."

Sorry, but asking "what's so extreme about Ned Lamont?" doesn't come off as too bright, either.

Of course as a Republican, I would love to see a dozen more Ned Lamonts take down Democrat incumbents over the next few cyclees.

The rise of confident, aggressive Lamontism will make it darned near impossible for "moderate" Dems like Hillary and Bayh to survive the primaries.

It will put tremendous pressure on other Senators to stake out a definitively cut-and-run stance on the war.

And if the lefty blogosphere finds Joe Lieberman (pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-illegal immigrant, pro-tax, anti-social security reform, etc.) too conservative, what will they make of the likes of, say, Brad Ellsworth? I'd be surprised if he could survive one term without these same people trying to hound him out of office.

Unless, of course, he is secretly one of them...

Doug said...

Anon, if you don't know what makes Lamont "extreme," just say so.

A desire to get the hell out of Iraq isn't extreme even if you happen to think it's bad policy. What else do you have?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Doug--the word "isolationist" is probably the better word to describe guys like Lamont. This attitude didn't work with Hitler and the Japanese and it won't work in the war against Islamic terrorism. I think those who say that World War III has already begun are probably right. Islamic terrorism isn't going away until it is successfully defeated.

Doug said...

That's a legitimate point. I disagree simply because I seriously doubt the ability of radical Islam to gather together enough power to be a fraction of the force that the Axis powers or the Soviet Union represented.

They can prick us, but they could never muster the force to conquer us. Much as they may like, I doubt they could do even as much damage as Hurricane Katrina did or kill as many people as automobiles and cigarettes do.

Ultimately, I think their power over us rests primarily in the fear they manage to inspire and the irrational acts we commit because of that fear.

But I could well be wrong on all of that. It's a legitimate policy debate. You've respectfully engaged me on that debate, and I appreciate that.

However, I have to take issue with people like "anonymous" who let loose with crap like, "if you have to ask why Ned Lamont is extreme, then maybe you're extreme yourself."

I think isolationist is much closer to the mark than "extreme," but I think there is an avenue of multilateral international cooperation that can combat religious extremism by striking a balance between isolationism and the militarily aggressive unilateral foreign policy preferred by the Bush administration.

Anonymous said...

Lamont's win was one of the most refreshing political victories I've seen in a long while.

The LAST thing I'd call Lieberman is a centrist; he's a weak-kneed panderer who is/was more concerned about his self-defined image than the concerns of his constituents or his party.

He's getting EXACTLY what Hoosiers should deal Sen. Bayh some time soon. Bayh is all about supporting gay rights and abortion rights and union rights when he's talking to his liberal Democratic colleagues in D.C. Back in Indiana, he's a big conservative who'd NEVER appear publicly in front of a gay or union or planned parenthood crowd.

I appreciate officials like McCain and Feingold who aren't afraid of representing strong and fast ideals, listening to their constituents, and taking on the establishment when needed. Even Hilary Clinton seems to be mastering this more and more.

At the same time, Evan Bayh says what he needs to say and only when he needs to say it. Pick a liberal cause in D.C. and he's their hero. Pick a conservative line in Indiana and he's their guy. Oh, and he'll NEVER challenge the establishment, just like his moderate/conservative buddy Joe Lieberman.

Too bad Indiana doesn't have its own Ned Lamont. Maybe it's time for someone to step up?

Anonymous said...


Everyone "wants" out of Iraq.

Even the most hidebound neocons define success in Iraq not as a permanent occupation of the country but as a peaceful, stable transition of power to an autonomous Iraqi government.

So no, it is not extreme to want out of Iraq.

What is extreme--not to mention irresponsible--is the suggestion that we should get out of Iraq immediately, regardless of the long-term consequences.

And that is the essence of Lamontism. What's more, it appears to be the new animating force in Democrat party politics.

As I said--I can celebrate this infantile, marginalizing, and ultimately self-defeating poppycock as a Republican.

As an American, however, it sickens me.