July 8, 2006


Kiss of Death? Lieberman's unforgivable sin: He doesn't hate Bush. (Mathew Continetti, August 2006, Weekly Standard)

On July 6, the commuters stopping by O'Neill's pub on North Main Street here for a beer and a ballgame on their way home from work found themselves in the middle of a political rebellion. While the after-work crowd stood along the bar, drinking Stella Artois and carousing, watching the Yankees wallop the Indians on small television sets scattered throughout the premises, another group--quieter than the regulars, friendly and polite--sat at tables in the adjacent dining area, watching an other spectator sport: C-SPAN's feed of the first, and only, scheduled debate between Sen. Joe Lieberman, the three-term Connecticut Democrat and former vice presidential candidate, and Ned Lamont, the Greenwich cable magnate who is challenging him in the Democratic primary...
This is the first time anyone has mounted a primary challenge to Lieberman in his 18 years in the Senate. And while the senator continues to enjoy a comfortable lead in the polls among likely primary voters, that lead is dwindling--from 46 points in early May to 15 points in early June, according to researchers at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. (In mid-June, the pollster Scott Rasmussen, using a smaller sample, put the lead at 6 points.)...
There are two explanations for this apparent paradox. The first is that the true divide in the Connecticut Democratic party is not between hawks and doves but between a veteran, "establishment" politician and the grassroots supporters who feel the party has abandoned them and wish to reassert control...
The second, and more convincing, explanation for the furious assault against Lieberman in spite of his longstanding liberalism is that the assault actually has little to do with Lieberman. Its real target is George W. Bush. Each of Lieberman's alleged errors comes from siding with positions that the Bush administration also has taken. Since the Iraq war is the major project of the Bush administration, and since Lieberman supports that project, it stands to reason that the Iraq war would dominate the primary. For the progressive bloggers, the actual content of Lamont's positions on the issues is mostly irrelevant. What is most relevant is his willingness to oppose Bush and conservatives in general.

The article ends where it should have begun: Just how ideologically radical are the "netroots"? They are clearly angry in general and consumed by hatred for W in particular, but they are remarkably silent on most policy issues. As far as I can tell, they are nothing more than run-of-the-mill Democrats with boundless energy and a taste for over-the-top political debate. Like the mobs of Rome, flatter them and give them someone (anyone) to fight and they are yours.

Posted by Pepys at July 8, 2006 2:22 PM

Meanwhile, the whackos on the Right want to unseat any congressman who doesn't hate Mexicans....

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2006 2:50 PM

Are whackos the same as wahoos?

Posted by: Pepys at July 8, 2006 3:03 PM

The fact that the rest of the room was watching the Yanks play was an apt analogy, because the netroots folks really see politics in general, and George W. Bush in particular, the way Yankees fans see the Red Sox (or Sox fans see the Yanks, if you're on the New York side of the equasion; or how English soccer fans see German soccer fans, if you don't want to ruin your view of baseball rivalries by getting the image of Markos Moulstas stuck in your head).

While it's perfectly fine within certain limits for Yankees and Sox fans to dispise each other and see all their battles in terms of good versus evil, in the end, it's only a game, and doesn't have an effect on the lives of everyone in America and in other parts of the world. The netroots types have such little nuiance they see all their domestic battles in the exact same way -- we're good, they're evil, everything's black and white with no shades of gray and the other side can't possibly be right about anything.

Lieberman's desire to actually be a liberal who understands that sometimes the other side does have the correct political policy is something hopefully most of the primaary voters will also understand. If most of the Sox fans could cheer Johnny Damon when he returned to Fenway, surely people going into the Connecticut voting booths can be at least that sophisticated about world affairs.

Posted by: John at July 8, 2006 4:12 PM

I'm a Cards fan. We like everyone and everyone likes us. Heck, we even cheer for the other team when they do good.

Posted by: Pepys at July 8, 2006 4:33 PM

Pepys - Leftism isn't an ideology, it's a spirituality. They don't have any definite ideas -- they'll adopt whatever ideas advance their hatred, selfishness, combativeness, and lust for power. It's a mistake to think they aren't radical just because they're willing to embrace moderate ideas.

Posted by: pj at July 8, 2006 9:30 PM

PJ: You're looking at two different things I think. First, leftism is not a spirituality, it's a terminally exhausted ideology. What you have now are the former useful idiots wandering around without direction or impetus. Second, the netroots are clearly radical in the sense that they are more than willing to pull the Democratic Party down around their ears. The interesting question is what are they trying to accomplish? Do they want to implement a radical ideology or do they just see their goal as the creation of a goal-neutral fitter fighting force?

Posted by: Pepys at July 8, 2006 9:52 PM

"They don't have any definite ideas -- they'll adopt whatever ideas advance their hatred, selfishness, combativeness, and lust for power."

One of the best examples of this is how they view the Constitution. Whenever some covert program in the war on al-Qadea is exposed, no matter how legal it is, all of a suddent Leftists are the strictest constructionists of them all. But, if it gets in their way the Constitution is nothing more than toilet paper.

Posted by: andrew at July 8, 2006 10:34 PM

The left has long since abandoned any coherent ideology. Now, it is a reactionary aesthetic. Just ask OJ.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 9, 2006 8:03 AM

Ooooh, that's gonna leave a mark.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 9, 2006 12:26 PM

I was the bass player in a band called The Reactionary Aesthetics.

Posted by: Pepys at July 9, 2006 4:57 PM