August 12, 2006

Losing Their MoJoe

I was sailing on Oyster Bay, Long Island this past weekend, and, while tacking north, I thought about the Senate primary that took place a few days ago across the Long Island Sound in Connecticut. In that primary, upstart Ned Lamont defeated incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman. It was a remarkable downfall for Lieberman, who has served 18 years in the Senate and who, just six years ago, was Al Gore's Democratic Vice Presidential running mate. Two things stand out regarding Lieberman's defeat. First, the reason why Democrats turned against Lieberman so violently, and second, the desperate Republican spin positing that Lieberman's defeat helps the Republicans.

As for why Democrats turned on Lieberman, it's not simply because he has supported President Bush every step of the way in the Iraq War. Lieberman took the extra step of questioning the patriotism of Democrats who, in good faith, opposed the war. Now, that's the job of Republicans, and they are doing it relentlessly. Democrats are the loyal opposition. It is their patriotic duty to criticize the President on any matter in which they believe he is not doing a good job, and there is plenty of evidence that the Iraq War is such a matter. According to current polls, 60% of the country, including many non-Democrats, share this view.

Democrats are pissed off at Lieberman because he takes the extra step of appearing self-righteous and attacking other Democrats. He did something similar when President Bill Clinton was caught fooling around with adult-age intern Monica Lewinsky. It is one thing to criticize Clinton for his foolish behavior. But Lieberman strode onto the Senate floor and delivered a lengthy, stinging attack on his President, going overboard by voicing his "graver sense of loss" about "the impact of [Clinton's] actions on our democracy" and so forth.

In the end, Lieberman comes off as a transparent political hack who attacks his own party members in order to appear morally superior. He's the kind of guy who, in high school, would have had the crap beaten out of him every day. It's surprising that it took Connecticut voters eighteen years to do so.

As for the Republican spin job on Lieberman, it is a similarly over-the-top effort that adheres to the following logical syllogism:

1. The Iraq War equals the War on Terror.
2. Joe Lieberman supported President Bush wholeheartedly on the Iraq War.
3. Ned Lamont disagreed with Bush and Lieberman on the Iraq War.
4. Therefore, Lamont is weak on fighting terrorism.
5. Since the Democrats chose Lamont in their Connecticut primary, the Democrats are weak on fighting terrorism.

In fact, White House Press Secretary and ex-Fox News commentator Tony Snow implied that Osama Bin Laden would be heartened by Lamont's victory over Lieberman.

However, it's easy to tear this syllogism apart:

1. The Iraq War is not the War on Terror. On the contrary, the Iraq War was a distraction from the War on Terror. The U.S. was attacked by Al Quaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden, not Iraq led by Saddam Hussein.

2. Ned Lamont and most Americans supported President Bush when Bush invaded Afghanistan to toss out the Taliban and try to get Al Quaeda, who were given carte blanche in Afghanistan.

3. However, Ned Lamont and the majority of Democrats in Congress opposed Bush's halting of efforts against Al Quaeda in favor of a totally unrelated and unprovoked war against Saddam Hussein. The opponents argued that the U.S. has a limited amount of troops, resources, money and military intelligence, and these resources must be devoted primarily to the enemies that attacked us and who continued to threaten us.

4. Since then, the opponents of the Iraq War have been proven correct. The Taliban are regrouping in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden has not been captured. Al Quaeda have not been defeated and continue to threaten us, as evidenced by the Liquid Prell terrorist scare a few days ago. Meanwhile, the Iraq War is a mess and has accomplished nothing except to strengthen Iran, unleash Shi'ite radicals in government positions in Iraq and Lebanon (Hezbollah), and foster more hate against the U.S., which creates more terrorists.

5. Accordingly, Ned Lamont is stronger on terrorism than either Joe Lieberman or George Bush. Karl Rove and the Republicans are going to have a difficult time trying to argue otherwise this November.


At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Aileen said...

Excellent post. Love the way you break it down. I have to tell you, while I consider myself a Democrat, I'm getting very frustrated with the Democratic party and it's apparent inability to keep a strong, clear, united message.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

Although I didn't always adhere to Joe Lieberman's stand on issues, I will miss him as an intelligent politician in my party who spoke from his heart instead of just offering political rhetoric as so many do.

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy to criticize, it's hard to construct. I suppose sometime before the election, Lamont & the Dems will tell us exactly what their plans are (but don't bet on it). "Transition, engage our allies, more carrots for Iran & Syria".....doesn't sound like a plan to me. Of course Lamont, when asked specifically, did have a real proposed change to the Patriot Act he opposed; "Let's get rid of that part that investigates Librarians". Hey, there's a real contribution.
Sure the opposition has a right, even an obligation to criticize, but please offer some real solutions along the way.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I have to agree to some extent with both Aileen and HE, that it is not simply enough to point out shortcomings by the other side, valid though they are. The Democrats lag far behind the Republicans in boiling down their message to a few simple points that can easily be communicated. Since most of the country agrees with the Democrats on most of the issues, this should be an easy task.
Barbara: I'm not convinced that Joe consistently spoke from his heart. I can't help but think that his over-the-edge methodology smacks more of political opportunism than sincerity. At minimum, he violated Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment for Republicans: thou shalt not criticize other Republicans. Yes, the Democrats could learn a lot from the Republicans, tactically speaking.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Aileen said...

Hmmm...I wonder if the democratic party could benefit from the services of a very eloquent, clear communicator/writer? Where-oh-where could they find such a person?

At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Aileen! Too bad you're on the wrong side of the aisle; we could use you!


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