July 27, 2006

As you might have been able to tell, I'm not the biggest fan of the lefty blogosphere's obsession with Joe Lieberman. There are other Democratic Senators whose voting records are clearly worse than Lieberman's, but who manage to receive a free pass from the commentariat, and the attempt to create an anti-abortion record for St. Joseph sometimes borders on the absurd. He may have voted the wrong way on My Big Issue at the beginning of the year (voting to end debate on the Alito Nomination), but then again, so did allmost half the Democratic caucus, including Daniel Akaka, who is embroiled in his own tough primary battle. His opponent, Ned Lamont, has yet to build a case for why anyone should vote for him (as opposed to voting against Lieberman). And the denunciations, eight years after the fact, of his courageous (but hardly lonely, among Senate Democrats) refusal to exonerate President Clinton for his sleazy betrayal of the charge the American People gave him, discredits the bloggers who make the argument.

But this posting by the Bull Moose exemplifies all the reasons why Ned Lamont must win. In denouncing "Joephobia" by a mythical loony left, Mr. Wittman loses all credibility in building a case for the junior Senator from the Nutmeg State. Contrary to his argument, Lieberman is being challenged not because of a "deep and obsessive loathing" of the Senator, but because a significant percentage of rank-and-file Democrats in that state no longer believe that he is representative of their views on the pivotal issue of the day, the ongoing wars in the Middle East. Wittman claims, sans supporting links, that:

The real passion of the left is the loathing of the President of the United States. The left's beef with Joe is that he believes that there should be some limits on political attacks on the Commander-in-Chief during wartime. However, it is an honorable tradition - exemplified by the late Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg - that politics should stop at the water's edge when the country is confronted with a hostile, aggressive enemy.

The Bush Administration should absolutely be subjected to tough accountability and scrutiny. It has made many grievous errors in this war. The Bushies have too often divided the country. But, should we lose all perspective? Radical Jihadism poses an existential threat to liberal civilization. And there should be some semblance of bi-partisan unity against this clear and present danger.
Contrary to Wittman's brief, there is a nearly universal and multipartisan consensus on dealing with "Radical Jihadism" or "Islamofascism" or "pan-Arabic terrorism", or whatever it is we're calling it this week. Defeating terrorism, preventing a repeat of 9/11, and allowing democratic pluralism to ultimately flourish are goals shared by almost every thinking person in the Republic. The parties may disagree about the means to do so, but not the ends.

It is not that Lieberman believes that "there should be some limits on political attacks on the President during wartime" that has so outraged the Democrats of Connecticut. It is that he has been too often silent when it comes to subjecting the President "...to tough accountability and scrutiny." On almost every aspect of the ongoing debacle in Iraq, Lieberman has been a not-so-silent partner of this Administration, from the decisions and rationale to go to war in the first place to the barbaric treatment of captured prisoners.

During WWII and the early stages of the Cold War, subjecting Democratic Presidents to such scrutiny was certainly not a task shied away from by Wittman's paragon, Senator Arthur Vandenberg. But then again, men like Vandenberg and Robert Taft considered themselves to be part of a Loyal Opposition, members of a coequal branch of government with its own duties and responsibilities. Lieberman, on the other hand, has seemed to be more interested with being every Beltway pundit's favorite "reasonable Democrat," a Cabinet Secretary without portfolio for the Bushies.

Even more offensive, though, is the accusation that the intra-party challenge to Lieberman is based on anti-Semitism:

The degree of left hatred toward Joe sometimes betrays something deeper. One can see it on the threads on left wing web sites where they routinely refer to "Holy Joe" and charge him with dual loyalty to Israel. Anti-Semitism will often not speak its name directly, but there is a distinct undercurrent that may explain some of the irrational venom.

Anti-Semitism is certainly not a primary factor driving the opposition to Joe. But, it is there. If you seek hostility to Jews and Israel, you will find it in the same left wing blogosphere that spreads the vile venom against Lieberman.
And according to Wittman, the Socialism of Fools is apparently not limited to Gentiles:

And it means little that some of Lieberman's critics are themselves Jewish. For over three decades, the Moose has witnessed the phenomena when Jews on the left and decent leftists turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism for the "good of the greater cause." The New Left had in its ranks many Jews who were silent or even abetted this evil.
As support for this malicious accusation, Wittman cites a commenter at HuffPost, and nothing else. The argument, of course, is absurd. It is no more anti-Semitic to oppose Joe Lieberman than it is racist to oppose Al Sharpton. One can only hope that this ludicrous charge will help undermine the argument in other areas; for too long, the frivolous use of the "anti-Semitic" (or "self-hating", depending on the mother of the accused) trope has prevented any sort of rational debate in this country about Middle East policy, in much the same way that the ugly use of the term "racist" mars our ability to debate issues like welfare reform and immigration.

To put it another way, is it anti-Native Hawaiian for Ed Case to be challenging Senator Akaka? Was it wrong for Dale Bumpers to challenge William Fulbright in the Democratic Senate primary in Arkansas back in 1974? Or for Lloyd Bentsen to throw his hat in the ring in Texas against Ralph Yarborough in 1970? Of course not. If a Senator loses touch with his constituents, he will eventually have to pay the price, and the same thing is true when he consistently battles the mainstream of his own party's rank-and-file. No one has a God-given right to hold the exalted position of U.S. Senator, not even when you're the punditocracy's Favorite Democrat.

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