Democrats are starting to pressure Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to step back. It has been reported that Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is calling on Lieberman to give up his bid for re-election as an independent as a matter of party loyalty.
Citing his own Presidential primary loss and subsequent support of the party nominee, Dean told NBC’s Meet the Press that “[t]he way to help this country is to limit Republican power.” Democratic blogger Josh Marshall is also calling on all liberals and progressives to back the party’s candidate, which means throwing support behind the winner of last week’s primary, Ned Lamont.
But wait a minute, where were all these loyalist Democrats when Senator Lieberman was fighting for his political life during the Democratic primary? If memory serves, many were loathe to come to his aid for fear of offending the angry left, a group which was actively working to undermine one of their party's most loyal and respected members.
So, these loyalists held back during the primary, the Senator lost, and now they want him to show the kind of loyalty that they were unwilling to show? This is a classic double standard.
Furthermore, not only did Lieberman see less support during his primary, those who did show up to support him were treated in a manner that was, to say the least, less than courteous. Lanny Davis, special counsel to President Clinton from 1996 to 1998, writes that his experience campaigning for Lieberman during the primary exposed him to the hatred and vitriol of many on the left who are reviling the Senator for his decision.
As for Lieberman's peers in Congress — Senators Kerry and Clinton, for example — most of them offered their best wishes from afar, all the while reminding angry left bloggers that they would "support the winning candidate." I guess you could say they were with him in spirit, right up to the point where he lost. Then not so much after that.
Now that the election is over, all of the Senator's "loyal" – but distant – friends back in Washington are urging him to "do the right thing." In other words, Senator Lieberman is being asked to do as party leaders say, not as they do.
Yup, that sounds like the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to me.
But not so fast. Lieberman warned his party back in July that, if he lost the primary, he would continue on as an independent. It should have been apparent then to DNC leaders that a potential disaster was brewing. And, while Senator Lieberman has assured Democrats he will continue to caucus with them, there is no longer any guarantee, is there?
However, if DNC leaders go whole hog to defeat the Senator, and he wins anyway, well, that could spell utter disaster. What if Senator Lieberman decides, for instance, that the GOP would be a nice place to visit… permanently?
All this in a year when Democrats seem to have their best chance since their 1994 route of regaining power. Now one man with consistent values, Joseph I. Lieberman, could be the nail in the coffin of their hopes and ambitions for 2006.
An MSNBC piece posted the other day spoke of a number of issues that contributed to Lieberman’s defeat, including his support for the Iraq war and his refusal to filibuster to block a vote on Supreme Court Justice Alito’s nomination, among other things.
Wait a minute. Were there a number of issues which brought about the Lamont victory? Everything I had heard and read in the press before the election seemed to indicate that the primary was all about Iraq, not a Senate filibuster or anything else. Now, all of a sudden, we have MSNBC reporter Tom Curry telling us that it isn’t?
In light of the astounding revelation offered by Curry, I felt it might be useful to go back and see what else this intrepid MSNBC reporter had written. On August 3, about a week before the primary, Mr. Curry wondered whether Joe Lieberman’s political obituary might read “another casualty of the Iraq war.”
Unless I'm in need of the Da Vinci code to properly translate this statement, it appears to me that Mr. Curry was singing a different tune before the primary. Just to be fair, I read the entire article and not once did I see any reference to an issue other than Senator Lieberman's support for the Iraq war and his seemingly close ties with the Bush administration.
However, to give credit where it is due, Mr. Curry does an admirable job in his August 14 article spelling out exactly why Lieberman has every reason to be confident of a win in November, pointing out that Bruce Bialosky, a leading Republican supporter from California, is attempting to garner financial support for Lieberman from the people on his political list. Bialosky describes Lieberman as a “great American” and characterizes Lamont as clueless.
Lamont, a political neophyte, is little more than a one-issue wonder. He has publicly and repeatedly asked the question, “Do we want to keep fighting in Iraq or do we want to start bringing the troops home?” And most media outlets transmitted that message faithfully in hopes that Lamont would indeed win in the primary.
So, whatever else happens in the larger election come November, Lieberman at least will win another term in office. The very fact that the MSM focused so heavily upon the Lieberman/Lamont race works to the Senator's advantage.
Now moderates and conservatives all over the country know what happened, and they are fully aware of the stakes. And because they understand how much we stand to lose should we withdraw from Iraq, moderates and conservatives are far more likely to support Lieberman in the run-up to the November election, and are more likely, in my opinion, to pull the lever for him on election day.
Will Lamont enjoy a similar surge in support from the anti-war left? Not likely. They threw everything they had, it seemed, into the primary. Even then, Lamont had to use 4 million of his own money to eke out a win.
Candidate Lamont had his day in the sun. Now it's Senator Lieberman's turn. And Lieberman will win.