March 9, 2006


'Lieberman Democrats' Have No Place In an Opposition Party (Ari Melber, March 3, 2006, The Forward)

Politicians of all stripes were outraged when news first broke about the Dubai port deal, but not Senator Joseph Lieberman. Declaring that it was "not yet" time to block the deal, Lieberman distinguished himself as one of the few legislators — and the only prominent Democrat — to support the Bush administration in the firestorm over Dubai Ports World's bid to take over terminal operations at six major American ports.

Lieberman's position was roundly condemned in Democratic activist and online communities, where many consider him a turncoat. Some Democrats are even openly supporting a challenger in the August primary for his Senate seat. [...]

Many activists believe that Lieberman's conciliatory approach undercuts the party's unity, consistency and confrontational posture, all of which are essential for an effective opposition party. They resent his style more than they resent his voting record, which is not very different from those of many popular Democrats.

Democrats saw in the Dubai ports debacle an opportunity to catch President Bush on the defensive. They wanted a unified message blasting the administration's failure to handle port security and touting their own solid record on the issue, including the Hollings and Byrd port appropriations amendments that Republicans squelched in 2004. Instead, Lieberman broke ranks to support the outsourcing of port security to a country that housed September 11 hijackers and has a diplomatic policy that recognized the Taliban but not Israel.

This reflexive support of Bush infuriated the Democratic base. The founder of Daily Kos, the top Democratic blog with about 3 million unique visitors a week, charged that the valid port security issues were trumped by "Lieberman's allegiance to Bush." Progressive blogger Jane Hamsher was even harsher, questioning how Lieberman could support the president on a policy that sends the message "Screw Israel."

Such online thrashings have become common for Lieberman, who has experienced a sudden and severe fall. He was the Democrats' widely respected running mate in 2000 and an aspiring national candidate in 2004. Now he faces scorn from the party's activist base and rebellion at home, where businessman Ned Lamont says he will formally declare a primary challenge this month. In case anyone thinks Lieberman is not taking this seriously, last week he held an elaborate press conference to announce endorsements — simply to be his party's nominee.

Lieberman obviously still has incumbency, fund raising, name recognition and good poll numbers on his side. Yet Democrats' enthusiasm for devoting resources to this internal battle, instead of to races that actually could win back Congress, reveals the increasing significance of leadership strategy in the debate over the party's future.

As a Republican he could even vote in accordance with his faith on social issues.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2006 4:04 PM

Amusing to dream about, but there's at least one reason it'll never happen: his social life. If he switched, he'd become a social leper to the people who throw all the best parties, friends and some family would desert him, and the media (except for Fox and the odd blogger) would devote themselves to demonizing him. He'd probably rather just retire.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 9, 2006 11:25 PM

Senators would knife their mothers to get to be committee chairmen.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 11:28 PM

Maybe they can get Ciro Rodriguez to move up from Texas to run against Lieberman, now that the Kos kids have done such a great job for Ciro against Henry Cuellar.

Posted by: John at March 10, 2006 12:39 AM

Lieberman has no more courage of his convictions, if he has any, than the RINO"s we already have. Let him stay where he is.

Posted by: erp at March 10, 2006 7:39 AM


Which is why the switch will be so easy for him.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2006 7:53 AM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference COME HOME, JOE::

» Dubai Deal Dead from Ed
The Anchoress proclaims it "A hand poorly played by everyone". Mass hysteria, and believing that perception is invariably reality will do that. Update: Joe Lieberman supported the deal, demonstrating that he his both a voice of common sense, and... [Read More]