Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Donkey v. Donkey

I guess I often underestimate the ferocity of the divide among moderate and left-wing Democrats. Maybe that is because I am relatively oblivious to the political machinery of the party. Or it could be that I revel in disagreements among Republicans and down-play similar feuds in my party. The dispute between Bull Moose and Kos has gotten my attention though and has me thinking.

First of all, it looks like both sides are overreacting. Daily Kos (and one other blogger) has drawn attention to Senator Lieberman’s attendance at the National Review’s 50th anniversary dinner. National Review was an outspoken critic of desegregation in the 1960s and therefore many on the left still associate it with racism. So why did Lieberman attend? Apparently, National Review founder William F. Buckley supported Lieberman’s first campaign for Senate. Bull Moose has claimed that Daily Kos owes Lieberman an apology for the post, claiming that they have slandered him.

I will admit that the left is out of control. It is too often guilty of attacking any Democrat who associates with any Republican organization, no matter the context. They ignore the fact that there are often reasoned arguments on both sides. Senator Obama was referencing this when he posted on Daily Kos. And when the left does this, they come off as childish and removed from reality. The Moose is one of the strong moderate voices calling for intelligent debate. He does this not because he wants to cave in to Republicans, as many of the comments accuse him and the DLC of, but to demonstrate to America that the left can do more than attack Bush - that the left has real ideas. The Deaniacs on the far left come off self-righteous - which is something they are always accusing Christian conservatives of. So I say to the Moose that I am with him. I wish the left would grow up and learn to contribute to the debate in a meaningful way, instead of attacking anyone and everyone whose name isn't Howard Dean.

But in this situation, I have to say I am not that offended with what Kos said on the post. All they did was bring attention to the fact that Lieberman attended the dinner. And whether or not he should have attended the dinner is worthy of debate. We can't simply ignore the history of the National Review - especially if it has never divorced itself from its past positions. But any such debate needs to keep in mind the respect that Lieberman deserves as someone who fought for integration with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Attending the event may have been in bad taste, but it doesn't make him a racist.

Update: NewDonkey has a much more detailed (and very long) analysis of the situation that includes some more history on Buckley.