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The Sweetness of Lieberman?s Defeat

Any morning which carries the fragrance of a defeat for Joe Lieberman is one that should be savored. And his humiliation at the hands of Connecticut voters yesterday is all the sweeter for the fact that it looks as though we may be able to enjoy another Lieberman defeat in November. No longer able to run as the junior Democratic senator from Connecticut Lieberman insists that he will run as an independent in the fall election. If he does so, it may deny victory to the man who defeated him yesterday in the primary, Ned Lamont, but Lieberman himself will plummet once again. There are a lot of people in Connecticut who quite rightly can’t stand the guy.

There are no mysteries to what happened on Tuesday. A lot of Connecticut voters don’t like the war in Iraq and don’t like Lieberman who has been one of the wars keenest supporters. When he was first challenged by Lamont, the New York Times insisted that the senator was hugely popular in his home state. He wasn’t. Al Gore made the same mistake when he put Lieberman on the 2002 ticket in the hopes that his vice presidential candidate would win him Florida. Instead Lieberman showed in his amiable “debate” with Cheney that he was a de facto endorser of the Bush ticket.

Lieberman’s rise as a national politician coincided with the Democratic Party’s refashioning as full-time corporate whore-without-shame, in the late 1980s. This was when the Democratic Leadership Council was ramping up, with denunciations of the Democratic Party as a sinkhole of of old liberals in the mold of George McGovern or Walter Mondale. Lieberman, a former prosecutor, berserk Zionist, cultural conservative and race-baiter was exactly what they were looking for.

In his ensuing three terms as senator Lieberman never deviated from servility to Connecticut’s arms and pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies and financial sector overall. He did the heavy lifting on the Bankruptcy bill so eagerly sought by the banks and credit card  companies. He was among the most vigorous advocates of telecommunications “reform” in the mid-90s, which made instant millionaires of men like Ned Lamont, who amassed the fortune in cable tv that enabled him to spend $4 million of his own money, to beat Lieberman.

Today the press is agog at what the political pundits are calling an exhibition of the power of the bloggers. We don’t see it that way. $4 million in greenbacks carries a lot more clout than  electronic drizzle from the blathersphere. Hillary Clinton has now hired a “blog outreach adviser”, but her husband is no doubt reminding her that elections are won by promising the Fortune 500 and the National Association of Manufacturers everything they want.

Sweet too was the humiliation of Bill Clinton whose campaigning with Lieberman seems to have precipitated the final collapse of the senator’s campaign. All those who tied themselves to Lieberman, like Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or Barbara Boxer  have been bruised by the admirable good sense of the Connecticut voters.

The simplest message of all that comes out of Connecticut is that the war in Iraq is hugely unpopular, and since that war was supported by about 90 per cent of the US congress, all its members have something to fear  from the voters, which is why many of them are redeploying as advocates of withdrawal.

But the question remains whether there is any home in the Democratic Party for a true progressive.  Lamont’s victory in the primary certainly doesn’t answer that question. On most issues he’s almost indistinguishable from Lieberman. On Tuesday you had only to travel down I-95 to Georgia to see what happens to real progressives, where the Democratic Party conspired with Fox News and the rest of the press to try to destroy Cynthia McKinney’s political career. For the second time.

The Democratic Party won’t tolerate any outspoken dissent. It is a cheerleader for Israel’s destruction of Lebanon. Just listen to Jerry Nadler, a New York congressman identified as among the most progressive in the Democratic congressional caucus. On a pro-Israel rally on July 18 Nadler asked the crowd, “Since when should a response to aggression and murder be proportionate?” In other words, a green light for war crimes, such as Israel has been committing every day. Despite all the schedules for withdrawal suddenly offered by candidates such as Hillary Clinton, or Maria Cantwell, it’s still a Party of War in the service of empire. Who is  the leading mainstream political voice calling for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon? The Republican senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel. The Democrats rushed to attack him, with Joe Biden winning by a nose, from Charles Schumer and the rest of the pack.




Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink co-written with Joshua Frank. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

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