Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Lieberman Lesson [link]

Submitted for your approval, a column by Noam Scheiber discussing the reasons behind Joe Lieberman's troubles.

IF you asked Senator Joseph I. Lieberman why he faced the fight of his life in yesterday’s Democratic primary in Connecticut, the answer would likely be “Iraq.”

It’s basically an argument by deduction. Mr. Lieberman has repeatedly said that his endorsements from a who’s who of environmentalists, abortion rights groups and labor unions certify that he’s a Democrat in good standing. The war, he has suggested, was the only major issue on which he dissented from his party. So the fact that many Democratic voters turned on him in the primary must mean that the party has become intolerant of dissenting foreign policy views.

In truth, Mr. Lieberman’s problem wasn’t so much the war as the perception that he’s a less than reliable partisan. To see why you probably have to go back to his overly civil performance during the 2000 presidential campaign. Or to his 1998 speech denouncing President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Or to his occasional flirtation with school vouchers. Or to his ... well, you get the idea.

Good analysis, even if it IS in the NY Times.

Consider the way Democratic politics has worked for most of the last 40 years. If you were a Democratic member of Congress, pretty much the only way to earn yourself a primary challenger was to oppose a powerful local interest group on an issue it deemed critical. If you represented a Rust Belt district, for example, you could all but count on winning your party’s nomination every two years as long as you voted with the local union on trade legislation.

Under this old model, Mr. Lieberman was an all-star. He was a reliable vote on what Connecticut liberals care about: defending the right to abortion, fighting oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, raising the minimum wage.

When he did depart from Democratic orthodoxy, it usually involved attacking constituencies with little influence in his state, like Hollywood movie producers.
But over the last six years this old model has broken down. As anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave knows, traditional Democratic interest groups have steadily lost ground to a more partisan, progressive movement skilled at using the Internet to communicate and raise money. The most visible faces of the new movement are the thousands of political bloggers — and their millions of readers — who delighted in panning Mr. Lieberman these last several months.

The Dems are purging members who are not towing the BUSH LIED line...they do this at their own peril. Non-partisan voters will be repelled by the shrill noise that this crowd makes.


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