Monday, August 07, 2006

A Disaster or Not?

Dean Barnett, blogging over at Hugh Hewitt's new site, suggests that the idea that a Lamont victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman would be a disaster for the Democratic Party is nonsense. In one sense, I'm inclined to agree. Even to the degree that Lamont beats Lieberman and thus emboldens the peacenik side of the party [for lack of a better word], it's not clear what will change all that much. The Dems' 2004 Presidential nominee has already thrown his hat in with that side of things (though no doubt he has a few spares to throw in other directions should the political winds reverse) and of the prominent Democrat politicians (as opposed to policy advisors) that I can think of, only the Clintons seem to be resisting that trend. I mean, if they get Lieberman, who else are they going after?

On the other hand, it's also hard to see where this might stop. It's true that Lamont's candidacy is buoyed mostly by Lieberman's support of the Iraq war, but that's not the whole of it. There's also Lieberman's "moderation" on social issues (he at least seems troubled by the same things that trouble social conservatives, even if he rarely votes differently than the more liberal members of his caucus), and his willingness (sometimes recanted) to consider things like school vouchers, an end to affirmative action, etc. I just don't know - but read Barnett's post and see what you think.

4 comments:

James Elliott said...

Considering that a staunch majority of the Democratic party (and the American citizenry, regardless of party) believes that the Iraq War is a debacle, it’s hard to imagine a Lamont victory as a “push to the left.” The real motivation seems to have been Lieberman’s intransigence - until the recent “I need to save my ass” about-face - that the Iraq War was a “good idea.” It’s hard to “push to the peacenik left” when the party and the country are already there. It doesn’t help that Lieberman’s “bipartisanship” has really amounted to just so much enabling of the GOP. I don’t find Lieberman particularly objectionable, but then I don’t hold to a dogmatic definition of what constitutes a Democrat either. That said, Lieberman has done more than his fair share of bending over for the majority, and his “my president, right or wrong” line of moronic thinking is particularly odious.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Maybe the GOPers are fairly mellow about Linc Chafee, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter (and let's add Chuck Hagel if not John McCain) because they're in the majority.

But the minority attempting to burn their office-holding heretics at the stake seems bad politics to me. Tends to set the Big Tent afire.

An insistence on ideological purity is the hallmark of the collectivist impulse, and so they first consume their own.

James Elliott said...

As diverse commenters, from Peter Beinart to Glenn Reynolds and beyond, have noted, it's not ideological purity that drives this primary, though I myself once ascribed to that idea. It's party unity. Lieberman isn't being challenged because he's not toeing the line; he's being challenged because he's been wrong time and again, refused to acknowledge he was wrong, and demonized his critics with rhetoric that enables the opposition party. That's a real problem. Lamont isn't some radical - the only real policy differences between he and Lieberman are an opposition to the Iraq War (and a concomitant desire to change course) and their approach to welfare.

Tom Van Dyke said...

But the Democrats don't have anything resembling unity (or coherence) on Iraq. Lincoln Chafee is a far bigger heretic from the mainstream GOP than Lieberman is from his party, but nobody's calling him Abortion Gurney Linc.