Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.
~H.L. Mencken, 1956
Despite a last-minute false smear campaign accusing his victorious opponent Ned Lamont with hacking the Lieberman website (a lie which has gained the attention of FBI investigators), three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman lost the Connecticut Primary by over 10,000 votes. Upon losing, instead of the usual “rally round the victor” concession speech, Bush’s favorite Democrat used the occasion to tout his “independent” fall campaign for the same seat he’d just lost (most states have “anti-spoiler” laws which would not allow such a travesty.)
Speaking of Spoilers
Heard the one about how Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election and gave us Bush and his disastrous policies (most all favorably voted on by Lieberman)?
You might remember the Democratic Party stalwarts’ and media flaks vicious false charges against Nader:
Senator Harry Reid D-NV said of Nader the day after that fateful stolen election, “I hope Ralph Nader is proud of himself,” said Reid. “One of the joys of waking up this morning was that egotistic bum didn’t get 5 percent of the vote (which would have qualified the Green Party for federal funds).”
“He can wallow in his mud. That is what he likes to wallow in anyway,” Reid said. “`I had very little respect for him and what I had is gone.”
Reid directly blamed Nader for Gore’s “loss.”
“You could be a second-grade math student and figure that out,” the senator said.
Now Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid had this to say when faced with another independent/third party challenge — from Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate Race this fall; “I don’t think it is fair for me to judge what he (Lieberman) should or shouldn’t do. He has told me what he was going to do. He told me that before the election. I think his decision has been made,” Reid said.
“I love Joe Lieberman. Joe and I have campaigned together, legislated together. But it is pretty simple when you’re Democratic leader and somebody wins a Democratic primary,” Reid says he considered not backing Lamont and instead sticking with Lieberman, “but I think I’d be subject to a lot of criticism.”
From the Horse’s Mouth
In announcing his independent run on the “Connecticut for Lieberman” ticket this fall, the ever-sanctimonious Lieberman noted that he received an election-eve “good luck” call from none other than Karl Rove. Ironically, the senator’s own campaign manager issued a statement falsely accusing Lamont supporters of “Rovian tactics” — i.e. hacking the Lieberman website.
Lieberman also said it would be “irresponsible and inconsistent with my principles” to not run again in the fall. That “principle” must be the same one that saw him hedge his bets and continue his Senate reelection campaign while running for vice-president in 2000, even though a Gore/Lieberman victory would have meant a Republican governor replacing Lieberman in the evenly-split Senate with a Republican!
Yet, here’s what Lieberman said while losing the 2000 vice-presidency, “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. I ask those who are thinking about voting for Ralph Nader to decide how they feel – how George Bush feels – about protecting the environment, protecting consumers, protecting a woman’s right to choose, because all of those may well be in jeopardy if George Bush is elected president.”
Lieberman saved some of his fire after defeat for his erstwhile running mate whom he described as “too populist” and that Gore’s “people vs. the powerful” rhetoric had a detrimental impact on the campaign. (Any wonder Gore was nowhere to be seen touting Joe this time around?)
Now we have the spectacle of Lieberman who once positioned himself decidedly against third party/independent campaigns, now taking money from Republicans for his own such campaigns. He once said, “For Republicans to be putting Ralph Nader on television in a paid ad, certainly might lead your average observer to be cynical.”
The Lockstep Pundits
The Liberal punditry joined the Democratic Party’s attacks on Nader and on anyone so “smug” as to vote for the candidate of their choice. Eric Alterman wrote in The Nation, “An honest Nader campaign slogan might have read, ‘Vote your conscience and lose your union — or your reproductive freedom,” Alterman even called Nader’s three million votes “pathetic” and dismissed the entire campaign as “a quixotic quest to elect a reactionary Republican to the presidency.”
Maybe Alterman’s had a change of heart. Here’s what he wrote just prior to Lamont’s victory: “If Connecticut Democratic Primary voters think Lieberman has been a bad senator and will likely continue to be so, they should vote him out of office. The fact that he continues to believe that invading Iraq was a good idea, that creating a Department of Homeland Security was a good idea, that overruling Terri Schiavo’s family was a good idea, that joining in the Republican vendetta against Bill Clinton was a good idea, well, that argues that what you’ve gotten from the man in the past is likely what you’ll get in the future. People like Broder, the Washington Post editorial page, Lani Davis and Al Hunt seem to think there’s something unfair in people voting their democratic preferences in their own primary’s party. We’ll see.”
Indeed, we did see. (How did Alterman not see, or believe that we did not?)
Slate ran a woeful piece by Jacob Weisberg yesterday titled “Dead with Ned” likening Lamont’s victory to some weird sort of Democrat Vietnam Syndrome! “Whether Democrats can avoid playing their Vietnam video to the end depends on their ability to project military and diplomatic toughness in place of the elitism and anti-war purity represented in 2004 by Howard Dean and now by Ned Lamont.”
The (neo)Con Is Up.
The fall of perhaps the most insufferable of the Democrat neo-cons has to be seen as a good thing. Remember, Lieberman first was elected himself when he attacked a true progressive, Sen. Lowell Weicker, who was attacked by Lieberman as “soft on Castro” and “no friend of Israel.”
Once again, Nader has been proven correct. All one has to do is witness the collective apoplectic response to Lamont’s victory — from the Democratic Party and its captive pundits. As Harry Reid would say, “You could be a second-grade math student and figure that out.”
MICHAEL DONNELLY is a decidedly independent voter. He has run for office thrice–twice as a Democrat and once as a Green. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org