July 31, 2006


'The Putting of First Things First': The revival of the romance of the antiwar left is a potential disaster for the Democrats. It's what gave the world Richard Nixon in 1968. (Jonathan Alter, 8/07/06, Newsweek)

The same Democrats who are justifiably angry with Lieberman for not holding Bush accountable are harming efforts to, well, hold Bush accountable.

Lieberman's problems began long before he was kissed by President Bush at last year's State of the Union. With his Senate seat safe, he didn't have to fight in 2000. He went easier on Dick Cheney in their vice presidential debate than he did a few weeks back against fellow Democrat Lamont. During the Florida recount, he made a point of favoring military absentee ballots likely to be Republican. Lieberman has voted 90 percent of the time with the Democrats—but his first impulse is often to find fault with them. His 2004 run for the White House was better known for its attacks on fellow Democrats than on the incumbent. He approved of Washington intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. On Iraq, he buys the GOP argument that equates criticism of the commander in chief with hurting the troops, which means no real oversight. (Has he forgotten the Truman Committee during World War II?) The duty of the opposition is to oppose. [...]

The bloggers who have noisily intervened deny they're interested in ideological purity. They point to their support in Senate races for pro-life candidates. But on Iraq, the liberal blogs brook no dissent. Not that it matters in Connecticut. If Lamont wins, only the laziest analysts can attribute it to the Netroots. Daily Kos is not exactly Topic A in the diners and union halls of the Nutmeg State.

But if the blogs aren't a force on the ground, they are becoming a powerful factor in directing the passions (and pocketbooks) of far-flung Democratic activists. They're helping fuel a collective version of what shrinks call "projection," where the anger of Democrats at Bush is projected on a handy target, in this case Lieberman. But in doing so, they have neglected what FDR called "the putting of first things first." Job one for Democrats is identifying which Republican House incumbents are vulnerable in their own states and directing all available energy against them. Savaging fellow Democrats (except those who cannot win) should come after taking control, not before.

Note that the trangressions that Mr. Alter says justify the anger towards the Sentor are pretty much the ones that got Susie shunned by the cool girls on your playground in 7th grade.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 31, 2006 11:53 AM

"The duty of the opposition is to oppose."

Um, no, actually it's not. But this mindset is why the Dems are screwed.

Posted by: b at July 31, 2006 12:15 PM

The really funny part is watching folks like Alter -- a prime contributor to the original outbreak of Bush Derangement Syndrome -- suddenly coming out of their fever and realizing that having an entire political party based on unbridled hatred of whatever the administration does and anyone who supports in on anything is not the best way to build a broad-based electoral coalition (Though to be fair, if you look at the comments threads on places like Lucianne.com and Free Republic, there are folks on the right already fired up about writing John McCain or Rudy Guliani out of the Republican Party by the 2008 primaries, so there are purists on both sides of this battle).

Posted by: John` at July 31, 2006 12:16 PM

"Has he forgotten the Truman Committee during World War II?"

Hey great Idea. Blast from the past.

I prefer the 83rd Congress version headed by Joe McCarthy, which was known as the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Of the 653 persons called by the Committee during a 15 month period, 83 refused to answer questions about espionage and subversive activities on constitutional grounds and their names were made public. Sort of a mopping up action to clean up the government after the inadequate job Trumann did during WWII.

Posted by: h-man at July 31, 2006 1:44 PM

"The challenge facing voters this year is not to hold Democrats accountable for their heresies but Republicans accountable for where they have taken the country."

Because, of course, it's not even worth considering that maybe just maybe there are some voters somewhere who think that the Republicans are taking the country in the right direction.

Posted by: fred at July 31, 2006 2:02 PM

The Democrat's lasting romance with Vietnam never ceases to amaze me. Sure, they were all young and giddy (or stoned) and flexed their power to "stop a war and bring down a President". But what was their lasting impact on American politics?

Before the anti-war Left seized the Democratic party at the Chicago convention in 1986, Republicans were not much of a force in this country. Democrats had won something like eight out of ten presidential races going back to FRD's first, they dominated both houses of congress and held marjorities in most state legislatures and govenorships.

And since the Days of Rage?

Republicans have won seven of ten presidential races, took congress for the first time in ages, and now are competitive if not dominant in the majority of states. Let's face it, Americans took a hard look at the hard Left, and don't much like what they see.

Those aging hippies long for the romance of the anti-war (read, anti-American) Left. But they are too self-indulgent to admit their love affair with the Left has led them to the political wilderness. For once I agree with Alter: if Democrats go down that road, Republicans will maintain their majorities for another generation. Make it so.

Posted by: JonSK at July 31, 2006 3:35 PM

The year was 1968, of course.

Posted by: JonSK at July 31, 2006 3:38 PM

oj. You mean he told everyone who likes whom?

Posted by: erp at July 31, 2006 4:20 PM

Only today's version.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 31, 2006 5:49 PM

"Has he forgotten the Truman Committee during World War II?"

They're more pissed he hasn't forgotten the Truman Doctrine.

Posted by: mf at July 31, 2006 8:45 PM