Saturday, May 20, 2006


Joe Lieberman Gives GOP Attacks Bipartisan Legitimacy

Digby is right about the real significance of Senator Joe Lieberman:
There was a time when a vital center coalition existed in the Senate, where there was room on both sides for trading votes across party lines. The Republicans destroyed that coalition and Liebermann, inexplicably, doesn't seem to get that. Even worse, when the s**t comes down, he inevitably sides with them. Many Democrats took a long time to learn the harsh lessons of GOP political hardball and had to lose to a bunch of thuggish right-wingers before they began to recognise what they were up against. Lieberman still refuses to accept the fact that his high minded centrism is a weapon in the hands of the radical Republicans. (Expletive deleted in the interests of preserving blogospheric civility.)

He's getting at a point which can't be stated enough. The Times is eager to to paint supporters of Lieberman opponent Ned Lamont as driven by a desire to "punish" Lieberman for supporting the Iraq war, but the challenge to Lieberman isn't about revenge at all. It's about Democratic survival. The GOP's openly stated goal of building a permanent Republican majority may seem like it's on life support right now, but this fight is far from over. With the GOP's military misadventure in shambles, the Republicans are desperately striking back by trying to paint Dems as anti-troops, pro-terrorism traitors. It's imperative that these attacks be seen by the electorate as desperate partisan attacks coming from a party in severe trouble. But as I've argued before, when Lieberman attacks antiwar people in his own party in terms similar to those used by President Bush and Dick Cheney, all he's doing is giving those GOP attacks bipartisan legitimacy.

Let's not forget how Lieberman acquitted himself after Dems began seriously pressuring the White House to begin preparing for withdrawal from Iraq: He said that Bush would be commander in chief for three more years and observed that "it's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that," adding: "We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril." Look, Lieberman is entitled to his opinion, but why the gratuitous slam against fellow Dems in those particular terms? Friends, his was a perfect expression of the GOP's message about Dem criticism of Bush -- only thanks to Lieberman, that Republican message has no longer been a purely partisan one. Why else would Cheney have chimed in thusly: "He is entirely correct. On this, both Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree. The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission."

To put this as plainly as possible, Lieberman lends aid and comfort to those who would destroy his party. Is it any wonder that some Dems want to get rid of him?

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