Thursday, January 05, 2006

Joebliteration! (Part Deux)

The lynch-Joe-Liberman movement amongst the loony lefties like Kos and MoveOn is really gaining steam, and more than anything it must make GOPers happy. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but TNR gets it exactly right when it comes to the whole Lieberman kerfuffle.

The common explanation is that Lieberman is a conservative. Or, more specifically, he's a conservative who represents a liberal state--and, therefore, has no excuse. But, according to conventional indices, Lieberman is not a conservative. His lifetime rating from the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) is 76, six points higher than the man MoveOn and Kos have encouraged to enter the race, former Senator Lowell Weicker. In August 2003 (before turning against Lieberman), Kos himself reviewed Lieberman's ADA and American Conservative Union ratings and called the charge that he was a closet Republican "b.s."

So why do so many liberals think Lieberman is a conservative? The obvious answer is his steadfast support for the Iraq war. For many liberals, ADA-style vote tabulations are irrelevant; Iraq is the crucible of our age. There's a clear historical parallel. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey's support for Vietnam made him a liberal pariah and Eugene McCarthy's opposition made him a liberal hero--few cared that, overall, during their years in the Senate, Humphrey had been the greater liberal champion.

Easy demolition of the idea that Lieberman is a conservative, which has always been thin gruel. On domestic issues, he's been steadfastly liberal. It's only on terrorism and foreign policy that one could come close to calling him conservative, and that's not even all that accurate. In Lieberman's oft-quoted Op-Ed, he states that large draw-downs of troops are not only possible but practicable and good sense in 2006 and 2007. That doesn't differ much, as TNR points out, from Kerry or Clark or Feingold's position about where we go from here. At least, it doesn't differ in substance. Where it does differ is appearance and tone. Lieberman's unapologetic optimism about Iraq and willingness to be bipartisan is what's really controversial. Lieberman grants some of Bush's points, and is actually willing to work with the other side to get what he wants done. The reason for this is Lieberman, unlike the partisan hacks he has for Democratic colleagues in the Senate, is serious about policy. And most of all he's serious about terrorism. TNR jumps all over this.

If he [Lieberman] only sees Bush through the prism of war, they only see the war through the prism of Bush--which is why they can muster so little anger at America's jihadist enemies and so little enthusiasm when Iraqis risk their lives to vote. Kos and MoveOn have conveniently convinced themselves that the war on terrorism is a mere subset of the struggle against the GOP. Whatever brings Democrats closer to power, ipso facto, makes the United States safer. That would be nice if it were true--but it's clearly not, because, sometimes, Bush is right, and because, to some degree, our safety depends on his success.

There are more gems in the article and some excellent examples, but this is the so-called crux of the matter. The reason Kos, MoveOn, and others want Lieberman out of the picture is that he doesn't fit with their grand anti-Bush narrative. His bipartisanship and his seriousness about policy are in conflict with their hysterical hatred and partisan hackery. Thus, they are no better than their right-wing counterparts who hysterical want to crucify McCain in the 2008 primaries when substantively he may do more to achieve true conservative goals than whatever hack (George Allen) they want to put in his place. They're no different than a Club for Growth or Americans for Tax Reform that wants to put a primary challenger against someone who does better at fighting the real fight for stupid and showy political reasons and a few key votes.