mardi, août 01, 2006

I Only Care if Joe Lieberman Loses in the Connecticut Democratic Primary for One Reason; or: Will the Death of a Hawk Create More Chickens?

You know what totally messes me up?

Well, besides trying to hit a three iron.

It’s talking about the whole Joe Lieberman thing.

Here’s why.

First, I could not care less whether he emerges from the primary or not. I just doesn’t really bother me one way or the other. I feel like it should, but it just doesn’t. I think part of why I don’t care is because I have this feeling that whoever emerges from the primary will win the seat. As long as it’s a Democrat (and not a DiNO), I’m good.

I don’t buy the argument that Joe is a Democrat in Name Only. Yes, he supports the war. I'm guessing that has something to do with his faith. Yes, there have been other times, when he’s seemed a bit too into the Bush agenda. But, looking at the wrong issues, he can seem more conservative than he really is. I keep reminding myself that he was our VP candidate a few years ago, even as I realize that he was chosen primarily for his holier-than-thou speech railing against Clinton or his indiscretions*. So, he was a perfect fit to help Al Gore distance himself from his former boss. He certainly wasn’t selected for his charisma. I mean, the man’s voice is like ether.

Also, there’s the reaction from conservatives. Logic tells me that if Teddy Kennedy were about to lose in the Massachusetts Democratic primary, Republicans would not be so visible on the issue. Or at least they'd be rooting hard for his opponent and using air time to try to tip over the shining tower of liberalism. The almost unlimited number of voices from conservative pundits discussing poor Joe’s fate, tells me that, in secret, conservatives would kind of like to keep him around. It’s another vote in favor of the war against Iraq (and conservatives love them some war against Iraq, and). Also, Joey can be counted on to support bad Supreme Court nominees and otherwise serve the man.

But what messes me up is this: for all his expendability, Joe Lieberman does one thing that I’d love to see a lot more of in Washington, especially from my beloved donkeys. He takes an unpopular stance, even a view that’s unpopular in his own state, because he feels strongly the other way. Washington (among both Democrats and republicans) could use a few more leaders willing to go against the grain. I worry that his ouster will have the unintended effect of making other fans of re-election even less willing to stick their necks out. Might Washington get softer and more risk adverse in order to worship at the altar of job security? Republicans won't touch tax increase because of what happened to Bush I. Might politicians avoid rocking the boat in order to avoid Joe's horrible, horrible fate?

So, from that standpoint, and that standpoint alone, I wouldn’t mind if he stayed. Even as, in the end, I’m glad he’s going (and methinks he’s going alright – I sold all my Joe Lieberman stock months ago) – because it’s more than just courage that allows Lieberman to support the war. It’s courage plus being wrong plus stubbornly refusing to change your mind even as all the evidence points to no WMD, no imminent threat, no link to Al Qaeda, faulty intelligence that was manipulated, and a ever pesky insurgency. Lieberman's smart enough to know that we could have neutralized Hussein without so many American casualties.

At some point, a Senator who consistently finds himself unable to work the numbers to a logical conclusion becomes his own best advocate in the case for his retirement. I'm not so sure that folks are voting against Joe (or in favor of his opponent) just because Joe supports the war. It might also be out of a genuine concern for what his support for the war says about him as a Senator.

* A better response would have been to at least consider the injustice inherent in attacks against Clinton. Shame on Bill for making it easy, but if you're going to speechify, at least acknowledge the motivation behind the charge.